Pear Tree Bottom
Articles and updates on the impacts of the Gran Bahia Principe hotel at Runaway Bay, Jamaica

NJCA has received numerous requests for information on our efforts to protect an area of outstanding natural beauty and ecological importance on the north coast of Jamaica, known as Pear Tree Bottom. On this page we provide links to a number of documents and websites that may be of interest to students and other researchers.  We ask that you provide correct and complete references to any material used or quoted.

In October 2005, in partnership with the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) and four individual members of our organisation, NJCA took legal action against the Government of Jamaica by filing a judicial review case in the Supreme Court, challenging the granting of an Environmental Permit to a Spanish hotel chain for the first phase of a proposed 1,918-room resort at Pear Tree Bottom.

The case was a landmark in that it was the first time that any Jamaican environmental NGOs had ever initiated such a case, and also because of its outcome: we WON the case, and the permit was quashed mainly on the grounds that the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) had failed to meet the legal requirements for consultation (or even their own stated standards), and that a critical element of the Environmental Impact Assessment - the Marine Ecology Report - had not been made available to the public.

Although the permit for the first phase of the hotel was eventually reinstated on appeal from the developers, because of their large expenditure, the court ruling later led to the rescinding of an application by the developers for a second phase, which would have allowed another 900 rooms to be added to the 734-room hotel (see Press Release on right).

On December 6, 2007 NJCA and JET were present at the hearing of an appeal against NRCA's decision to rescind approval of an environmental permit for Phase 2 (another 900 rooms) of the Gran Bahia Principe hotel in Runaway Bay.  The appeal, brought by HOJAPI Ltd., was heard by the Minister of Health and Environment, the Hon. Rudyard Spencer. 

On January 3rd, 2008 we received from the Ministry of Health and Environment a copy of a letter dated December 21st 2007 addressed to the developers’ attorney, stating that: 

“HOJAPI is to engage in public consultation in accordance with NEPA’s EIA guidelines in relation to the following documents:

 

(1) May 2005 Addendum to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) – Bahia Principe Hotel Resort Development dated February 2005 including the Marine Ecology Report and

 

(2) June 2005 Addendum to the EIA dated February 2005.”  

 

The letter said, “the results of this consultation will inform the Authority’s decision in respect of [the hotel application for Phase 2].”

 

On February 11th 2008 a meeting was held in Runaway Bay to discuss documents mentioned above, which had never been presented to the public.  NJCA's analysis of the meeting will be posted here shortly.  In the meantime, please read John Maxwell's account of the meeting and our letter to the North Coast Times (in response to an article published just after the meeting).  The Times published all but the last two paragraphs of our letter in its February 21-27 issue.

 

The 30-day period allowed for submission of comments on HOJAPI's application for another 900 rooms ended on March 12. 

 

Download a summary of NJCA's concerns regarding the environmental impacts of Bahia Principe Phase 2, which was part of our submission to NEPA during the consultation process.

 

Want to read more?  Download the details.

 

LINKS TO DOCUMENTS  (latest at top)

Last updated: 3 May 08

BAHÍA BOSS SAYS NEPA BLOCKING EXPANSION

published: Saturday | April 19, 2008

Janet Silvera, Senior Tourism Writer

Visibly livid at the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Pablo Piñero, president of Grupo Piñero, says he is being blocked from investing US$200 million into the expansion of his Bahía Príncipe resort in Pear Tree Bottom, St Ann.

"I am very angry with Jamaica because the promises to us were not kept. The attraction to invest in the country came with the agreement that I could build three hotels amounting to 1,800 rooms." - Piñero

 

NEPA 'DOING ITS JOB'

[Letter to the Editor]

published: Tuesday | April 22, 2008

http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20080422/letters/letters3.html

So now we have it from the horse's mouth, as reported in The Gleaner's article 'Bahía boss says NEPA blocking expansion', April 19, that Pablo Pinero, developer of the Bahía Príncipe Hotel at Pear Tree Bottom, was "reassured that he would get" all the necessary permits for him to build three hotels, totalling 1,800 rooms.

NJCA letter to North Coast Times re Bahia meeting

15 Feb 2008

Letter about sewage plant, from Ministry of Health & Envt.

16 Jan 2008

NJCA gets permission to attend appeal hearing 30 Nov 07

Letter - NJCA & JET to Minister Spencer re Appeal 30 Oct 07

NEPA BACKS DOWN ON BAHIA PHASE 2  26 Jun 07

"The decision [to rescind the permit for Phase 2] was taken to ensure that the NRCA's decision-making process is in compliance with the law, as determined in judgment delivered in the case: Northern Jamaica Conservation Association and Jamaica Environment Trust vs. Natural Resources Conservation Authority and National Environment and Planning Agency." - NEPA's press release.

THE JUDGEMENTS:  NEW

Judgement of May 16, 2006 NRCA et al vs NRCA & NEPA  from the website of the Supreme Court of Jamaica.

Second Judgement, 23 June 2006 which upheld, indeed expanded, the declarations against NRCA and NEPA but reinstated the permit due to the hardship that would be caused to a Third Party (the developers) if the permit remained quashed.

"The picture painted by NJCA which I accepted and still accept is this: there is a symbiotic relationship between the various organisms in any eco-system. Any major disturbance of the eco-system, especially fragile ones such as Pear Tree Bottom, should be preceded by careful study. In this context, accuracy is paramount. Accuracy in terms of fauna, flora, water quality, hydrologic information and so on. The accuracy of the data about the fauna and flora is not about excessive concern about bugs, ants, bats, birds and insects as an end in itself but rather about the current state of the eco-system. All these animals and plant life play their part in maintaining the balance of nature." 

 -- Justice Bryan Sykes, 23 Jun 06

 

Victory for environmentalists in Pear Tree Bottom case 17 Jun 06

In delivering his judgement, Justice Sykes...said that given the undisputed high ecological value of the resources of Pear Tree Bottom, the absence of the marine ecology report was of “tremendous significance” to the decision-making process which the court was being asked to examine."

The judge agreed with the Applicants that the public consultation process had been flawed and that NEPA and the NRCA had failed to respond to the legitimate concerns and expectations of stakeholders.  He found that NRCA had acted unfairly, stating that “unfairness is an abuse of power.”

17/May/06

Affidavit of W. Lee for NJCA