Prime minister declares Cockpit Country a protected area; outlines boundaries

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday
Environmentalists appear to have won their battle to prevent mining from destroying the Cockpit Country.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness in a statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon, outlining the boundaries of the Cockpit Country Protected Area, declared that no mining will be permitted.
"In this regard, the Mining Act and any applicable existing mining licences will have to be amended to close this area to mining. The government is of the view that this area is too valuable in terms of its ecological and hydrological importance and uniqueness to allow mining which may result in permanent and irreversable harm and deprive future generatons of the benefits of this national asset," he declared. 
The prime minister also spoke about what will happen with regards to mining immediately outside of the core area.
"The Cabinet mandated that major development activities within the proximate environs of the Cockpit Country Protected Area will be subject to rigorous processes of decision making, including approval by Cabinet, taking into account the provisions of the relvant legislation," he outlined. 
Prime Minister Holness, in using maps during his presentation to highlight the defined Cockpit Country Protected Area, said the deliberations took into account existing forest and water reserves as well as cultural and heritage sites.
"This area, which comprises approximately 74,726 hectares, which will be referred to as the Cockpit Country Protected Area and will be protected under specific legislation as advised by the Attorney General. The core area, previously as I had described it, was 59,044 hectares, but we are covering an area that is wider than the geomorphological definition of the area," he added.  
Mr. Holness's statement comes weeks after the Administration faced criticism from environmentalists for failing to respond within 30 days to a petition about preserving the Cockpit Country.
The petition obtained the required 15,000 signatures. 
The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) had said the lack of response from the Government did not reflect well for the petition initiative which was established by the Office of the Prime Minister. 

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