Jamaica News: Prime Minister Andrew Holness has defended a Government decision to allow the development of a section of the Dry Harbour Mountains that environmentalists say should not be touched.
Bengal Development Limited wants to mine and quarry on the land and also, over the longer term, to develop part of a 570-acre property for housing.
Controversy has surrounded news that Government has granted an appeal by the developers against a ban on quarrying and other activities on the lands, that are close to the Queens Highway near the border between St Ann and Trelawny at Rio Bueno.
Environmentalists are firmly against the planned development.
Speaking in St Ann Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister Holness said the Government assessed every development with the environment at the centre of its concerns.
He said there was mining permitted on the land between 2004-2006 to allow the development of the North South Highway. He said the development plan was not just about mining. He said the developers will not be allowed to mine and leave a social cost for the residents.
Mr Holness said the Government should not be accused of not holding the environment as very important.
He said there has to be a balance between economic development and the environment. “Whenever there is no economic development the environment suffers.”
He said the appeal was made by the landowners, it was considered and NEPA made their recommendations. The appeal was considered by Leslie Campbell, then responsible minister and he recommended it be upheld. He said the decision was not taken lightly and 71 conditions were made on the application.’