Prosecution looms for illegal sand dunes mining in Great Bay, St Bess

An enforcement notice and a cessation order have been served on the individual who is responsible for illegally mining sand in the Great Bay area of St Elizabeth.

The announcement was made by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation (MEGJC) with responsibility for environment and climate change, Matthew Samuda.

Reports emerged last week that the community could become flooded as a result of the mining.

The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) also raised alarm at the mining activities, stating that the sand dunes are estimated to be 3,000 to 5,000 years old, and their removal may have significant consequences for the nearby coastal communities.

Samuda, who was addressing a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House on Wednesday, assured residents of the Great Bay and Treasure Beach areas that the Government “will be taking steps to rehabilitate the area appropriately”.

He elaborated that “I wish to also advise citizens that we will be moving to ensure that the full extent of the law is applied to this case.

“We encourage you to bring to our attention matters of environmental concern. NEPA (National Environment and Planning Agency), the police, no law enforcement agency will ever have the full footprint that we will wish to have in Jamaica, so we need you to be our ears and eyes,” Samuda further stated.

He contended that once matters of perceived environmental breaches are brought to its attention, the Government “will take the strongest action possible within the law”.

Samuda added that “We know that the issue of sand mining in particular, has been of concern to citizens for a long time, and we intend to work diligently to strengthen the laws that are related to this space, as well as to ensure that our enforcement keeps space.”

Meanwhile, Samuda said Prime Minister Andrew Holness has ordered for steps to be taken to examine the legal framework relative to the protection of the sand dunes in Great Bay, as well as along the southern corridor of the island.

“These sand dunes would have been formed 5,000 years ago and I believe they warrant the protection under the environmental laws of Jamaica,” Samuda shared.

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