Using boulders to curtail Negril beach erosion is ill-advised, says Wheatley

Opposition Spokesman on Environment Dr Andrew Wheatley

Negril beach erosion

 KINGSTON, Jamaica — Opposition Spokesperson for the Environment, Dr Andrew Wheatley, on Monday called on Environment Minister Robert Pickersgill to “wake up and immediately address mounting concerns with plans to construct a controversial breakwater system off the famous Negril coastline”.

Dr Wheatley warned that if the Minister did not urgently intervene, Jamaica will face the national and international consequences of a damaging economic and environmental decision.

“While the Opposition appreciates the need to urgently preserve and rehabilitate the Negril coastline, we are seriously concerned about the way in which the initiative has been handled,” Dr Wheatley said.

He urged Minister Pickersgill to address several major concerns and specifically, to quickly and comprehensively explore beach nourishment as an alternative to the breakwater system which includes the placing of huge boulders off shore.

Beach nourishment, he argued, is a more effective way to handle beach erosion, as it is a long term solution, less expensive and environmentally friendly.

Dr Wheately said that it was also important to note that Negril stakeholders have indicated a strong interest in helping to fund a comprehensive beach nourishment programme which has seen success in Cuba and many other countries. The Negril stakeholders, in addition, were not consulted in the decision to use boulders to construct a breakwater, the Opposition spokesman on environment charged.

According to Dr Wheatley his recommendations have come out of (i) consultations with a broad group of Negril stakeholders over the weekend (ii) a review of the position by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) in the matter, and (iii) an analysis of worldwide trends for coastline protection initiatives.

He contended that the unsightly look of a breakwater will permanently damage Negril’s famous coastline, adding that the breakwater plan only addresses a one-and-a-half mile span of the seven mile coastline as opposed to the beach nourishment option that can address the entire span.

“With Negril being a massive contributor to Jamaica’s economy, especially in terms of tax revenue and employment, the government must see the national importance of ensuring that it does the right thing. Seven miles of white sand should not be treated this way,” said Dr Wheatley.