Wed | Aug 12, 2020

NEPA defends granting permit to Dovecot

Published:Friday | July 3, 2020 | 12:18 AMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer
A sign showing an artist’s impression of the proposed expanded Dovecot Memorial Park in St Catherine.
A sign showing an artist’s impression of the proposed expanded Dovecot Memorial Park in St Catherine.

The national Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has defended its decision to grant a permit to Kumanda Park Limited, operators of Dovecot Memorial Park in St Catherine, for a proposed 72-acre expansion of the burial grounds.

NEPA said that a proper environmental impact assessment (EIA) was undertaken by the developers, which is the legal requirement for the granting of such permit. Eleven breaches identified by the environmental regulator led to Monday’s stop order on all expansion work.

Director of the Environmental Management and Conservation Division at NEPA, Anthony McKenzie, told The Gleaner that NEPA was satisfied with the technical study, which had taken into account environmental preservation.

“The concerns of the citizens would have been addressed in this study and the necessary mitigation strategies put in place,” McKenzie said.

Residents of the communities in the vicinity of Dovecot have been at odds with the management of the burial site since they announced the expansion plan in 2013.

The residents cited the possible contamination of the underground water source that supplies potable water to the communities, dust nuisance associated with the expansion work, traffic congestion along St John’s Road on funeral days, and the devaluation of their homes as a result of the unsightly perimeter of the memorial park.

“A number of agencies were involved with the assessment, like the National Water Commission (NWC), the National Works Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Authority, and the Ministry of Health,” McKenzie said.

“We are satisfied that the mitigation strategies are in place to protect the water supply, which is some 50 metres below where the vaults stop.

There is a requirement that 12 inches of limestone is poured into each vault, in addition to the establishment of two monitoring wells to the south and southeast of the property to constantly test the water quality, so steps have been taken to ensure that discharge from dead bodies does not affect the water,” he added.

The NEPA director said that the NWC, which is the authorised regulator of potable water, have a duty to ensure that supplies to households were free from contamination. Likewise, the health department has a responsibility to test samples of water going into households, so residents need not fear.

McKenzie said as part of the EIA, the aesthetics were also addressed with a detailed drawings of what the memorial park would look like on completion.