October 13, 2011
The Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) did not breach their statutory duty in granting a permit for the Palisadoes Road Project. That was the ruling which was handed down today by the Supreme Court in the case brought by the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) against NRCA and NEPA.
In handing down judgment, the Supreme Court Judge Jennifer Straw ruled that the beach licenses and other permits which were issued by NRCA and NEPA were sufficient to manage the works and protect the environment, once the road was not four or more lanes. The court upheld NRCA and NEPA’s evidence that the public announcement of four lanes was an error on the part of the Ministry of Transport and Works.
JET had sought declarations challenging the appropriateness of the permits and licenses that were issued by the agencies.
The court also ruled that the agencies acted improperly as they had granted approval for the Palisadoes road project before disclosing to the public within a reasonable time all environmental information related to the development. At the time the second public meeting was held on October 4, 2010 NRCA and NEPA had already given permission for the works to proceed. According to the ruling, NEPA was found in breach of its duty of the requisite standard of consultation with the public as the plan for the development was materially changed subsequent to the initial Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). JET contended that NRCA and NEPA had breached the legal standard for the holding of public consultation for the development.
NRCA and NEPA have been ordered to pay 65 per cent of JET’s legal costs. NRCA and NEPA were granted leave to appeal and will be appealing against this second order.