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NEPA briefs municipal corporations on proposed Cockpit Country Protected Area

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NEPA briefs municipal corporations on proposed Cockpit Country Protected Area

Saturday, August 24, 2019

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Fourteen representatives from municipal corporations in Trelawny, St Ann, St James, Manchester, Clarendon and St Elizabeth participated in a briefing on the proposed Cockpit Country Protected Area (CCPA) on Wednesday at the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) head office.

The meeting was convened to brief mayors, chief executive officers and other senior municipal representatives on the process adopted by the Government in declaring the proposed CCPA boundaries, explain the accompanying initiatives and actions for areas outside of the boundary, provide information and clarification on mandatory environmental impact assessment (and archaeological impact assessment) and the plans to develop and implement a management plan for the area.

Peter Knight, NEPA chief executive officer and government town planner who chaired the meeting, stated that “the Government, led by Prime Minister Holness, is to be credited with providing leadership and working diligently in partnership with the key environmental and planning agencies and departments and other stakeholders in collectively agreeing on a boundary referred to as the CCPA”.

The briefing included a presentation on the CCPA, highlighting its significance and raising awareness of the proposed CCPA as a no-mining zone as designated by the Cabinet.

Following the presentation, representatives from the municipal corporations sought clarification on issues regarding the CCPA, including the considerations in the definition of the proposed boundary and progress of the on-the-ground verification (“ground truthing”) process to outline the boundary.

“We are glad for this meeting so that we can relay these facts to our councillors. There is a lot of misinformation and the people have the right to be informed properly,” said Trelawny mayor, Councillor Colin Gager. “We do applaud the bold move by the prime minister to identify a boundary.”

Other mayors expressed similar sentiments, saying that the briefing was overdue and that they were now placed in a better position to assist with the dialogue on the CCPA.

Representatives from partner State entities, including the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Water Resources Authority, and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority were present at the briefing to respond to queries.

After extensive consultations and deliberations, the area designated as the proposed Cockpit Country Protected Area was announced in Parliament on November 21, 2017 by Prime Minister Holness.

The proposed CCPA spans six parishes — Trelawny, St Ann, St James, Manchester, Clarendon and St Elizabeth. The area comprises approximately 74,726 hectares and will be protected under law. This includes existing forest reserves, significant hydrological, ecological feature, and cultural and heritage sites. A management plan will be prepared in partnership with private landowners, local groups and other stakeholders.

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PHOTO: Cleaning the coast

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PHOTO: Cleaning the coast

Monday, September 23, 2019

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Allan Lewis (third right), managing director, JN Fund Managers, gets support from Stacey-Ann Mighty Whyte (left), Patrick Whyte, and Javine Heath from Allman Town Primary School in collecting recyclable plastics along the Palisados strip in Kingston on International Coastal Clean-up Day last Saturday. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)


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Crown, prosecution again haggle over document disclosure

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Crown, prosecution again haggle over document disclosure

BY JONATHAN MORRISON
Observer writer

Monday, September 23, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Despite consensus at last Thursday’s hearing in Porus on the management of the large volume of documents related to the Manchester Municipal Corporation fraud trial, Friday’s sitting of the parish court in Mandeville was again marked by lengthy wrangling over document disclosure.

There was much back and forth between the team of attorneys, representing the eight defendants, and the two Crown counsel marshalling the evidence on behalf of the prosecution.

Parish Court Judge Ann Marie Grainger, in seeking to resolve the issue, referred to a ruling she made at a previous sitting that at no time should the prosecution bring into evidence any document or other exhibit that had not been shared beforehand with the defence.

At the Porus courthouse last Thursday, defence attorney Danielle Archer had suggested that in the interest of time and efficiency documents of like nature could be bundled and presented at once for identification and verification by witnesses, as opposed to handing each, one at a time, to the witness.

At the time Judge Grainger had thanked the defence for their co-operation in offering a suggestion that would speed up the prosecution’s examination of witnesses.

However, in Mandeville on Friday the Crown’s examination of two prosecution witnesses was repeatedly halted by objections from the defence. The objections were based on the issue of documents and, in one instance, a compact disc that the defence team either had not received or felt had not come to hand in a timely manner, but which the Crown was relying on as evidence.

In the end it was not clear whether the prosecution’s examination of the witnesses had been discontinued on account of the objections or if the Crown counsel had completed their examination.

The eight accused individuals are on trial for the alleged misappropriation of more than $400 million of public funds from the corporation. They are all facing charges including forgery, conspiracy to defraud and obtaining money under false pretence.

The trial resumes today at the Mandeville courthouse.

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Gov’t Electrical Regulator to begin operations soon

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Gov’t Electrical Regulator to begin operations soon

Monday, September 23, 2019

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The Government Electrical Regulator (GER) is to be operationalised soon to speed up the process for the delivery of electricity, according to Science, Energy and Technology Minister Fayval Williams.

“We are changing the structure of how consumers access the inspectors to inspect their buildings and connect to Jamaica Public Service [JPS],” she said. “It is an effort that will be privatised so that we will have many more inspectors to meet the demand in the sector.”

Williams was addressing the Engineers’ Week conference at Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston last Tuesday.

GER, which is expected to transform the Government Electrical Inspectorate will be responsible for the regulation of the electrical inspection process; the licensing of electricians and electrical inspectors, who make recommendations for renewal and revocation; and monitoring of work done by the inspectors.

Williams also said that “considerable work” is being done by the Government to incorporate more renewables, in order to strengthen the country’s energy security.

Additionally, Williams said that the ministry is redoubling its efforts to ensure that legislation pertaining to net billing, auxiliary connections, and power wheeling are tabled in Parliament.

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