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Parish council in the dark about beach development

The Portland Parish Council is unaware of any planned artificial beach development at Blue Lagoon in the parish. Mayor of Port Antonio, Floyd Patterson, says the matter will be investigated by the Council’s Director of Planning.

“I am not aware of any such development,” Patterson told The Gleaner.

“This will be something that we will be investigating thoroughly; however, once approval has been given by the relevant agencies to the property owner, as it relates to any such operation, the council might not be able to change anything.

“But it is important to note that once one has met all requirements, one is within his or her rights to develop,” Patterson added.

Since the start of this month reports have surfaced that the operator of Tropical Lagoon Resort, Devon Wilson, plans to construct an artificial beach at Blue Lagoon.

While there is no confirmation of the reports, the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) has objected to what it claims is the granting of a beach license by the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NCRA) to the operator.

“In a letter to Prime Minister Bruce Golding Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of JET, Diana McCaulay, said it was their view that an artificial beach is inappropriate for Blue Lagoon, one of Portland’s premiere beauty spots.

According to JET, the clearing and removal of vegetation from the lagoon’s steep sides could result in silt running off into the sea.

Commercial recreational activities

The letter also stated that the beach license granted to Mr. Wilson by NRCA was to operate commercial recreational activities in the Blue Lagoon including swimming and the construction of a slipway for canoes.

Additionally the letter pointed out that although Wilson was strictly prohibited from modifying the coastline, he has ignored that warning.

The Gleaner visited the Blue Lagoon area recently, and observed a mini white sand beach area on the property owned by Wilson.

The Gleaner also observed that a number of trees were lopped, low walls built, and a chain-link fence.

But a senior source at Tropical Lagoon Resort, who asked not be named explained that they have adhered to all the guidelines and regulations from the NRCA including preservation of the vegetation.

The source added that the operators would welcome an investigation into their operation at any time, as so far, their conduct has been transparent.