The Prime Minister says the Government is furthering steps to preserve the Cockpit Country and is aware of its importance to national life including water supply.
The area covers portions of Trelawny, St Ann, Manchester and Clarendon and is said to be responsible for 40 per cent of Jamaica’s water.
Prime Minister Holness on Wednesday, August 28, met with three major entertainers and restated the Government’s commitment to protecting the Designated Cockpit Country Protected Area. The three are Rodney Price, aka Bounty Killer, Patrick Barrett aka Tony Rebel and Ventrice Morgan aka Queen Ifrica. Also in the talks were representatives of the Forestry Department and Minister Daryl Vaz and Senator Matthew Samuda.
The meeting between the Prime Minister and the three entertainers took place against the background of sporadic protests in the area and calls by some environmentalists and politicians for more dissent to be expressed in protecting the area, especially against bauxite mining
In the meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister, according to a statement, Mr Holness said he understands the sensitivities surrounding the discussion on the Cockpit Country. However, he noted the Government is in a far better position in resolving the matter.
“The Government is quite advanced in a process in deciding as to whether or not there should be any mining allowed in this area. The government is exploring alternatives; it can be said that we are looking at alternatives. The Government is committed to protecting the area that has been declared…We are in the process of physically marking the boundary on the ground and we are asking the public and persons involved in the area to support the demarcation.”
He said the Government is also sensitive to the hydrological or water issues.
According to Prime Minister Holness, the geomorphology and hydrology of the Cockpit County will be protected from activities such as mining, deforestation and water contamination. Endangered and indigenous species of flora and fauna will also be protected, and harmful farming practices prohibited.
According to Prime Minister Holness, economic activities that do not threaten the preservation of the Cockpit Country can still be considered. However, such activities must satisfy the regulations of NEPA.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Holness said the measures that have been implemented will improve Jamaica’s aesthetics.