Well, then.

When is the message going to get through to those in Jamaica’s “high places” that the environment does not have to and most certainly should not suffer in the face of development projects – such as discovering and harnessing natural resources, building factories and manufacturing plants, etc…. Preservation and conservation does not equal anti-development!! Notice that the author of the article below is the ED of an environment and development NGO…

Somehow I’m not suprised at Rev’d. Roper’s links to the proposed Tank Weld plant – everything in Jamaica now is either tainted by the blush of corruption and/or questionable ethics or ethical practices. The fact that he’s a minister means nothing to me for I have learned that wearing the robe of the clergy says nothing about your integrity and character. In fact, it would seem that, by and large, donning the robe casts doubt on those very things.

There ain’t nothing wrong with Jesus but there sure is something wrong with religion and the people who purport to be its leaders.

No, Rev Roper
published: Wednesday February 7, 2007
Tank-Weld Ltd. has applied for an environmental permit to construct a cement bagging plant at Rio Bueno, Trelawny, that is going to impact on some wetlands there. A few months ago, the company held a public meeting to expose its plans to the public.

At the meeting, the Tank-Weld project manager introduced himself to the audience (heavy, by the way, with staff of the Social Development Commission and SDC youth clubbites), and extolled the virtues of the project. Who was that project manager? Why the Rev. Garnett Roper, of course, former chairman and present board member of the SDC.

Readers may consult the In Focus section in the last Sunday Gleaner (Page G7) for an article by Wendy Lee of the Northern Jamaica Conservation Association, which put me on to the Rev. Roper’s new occupation.

I thought the Rev. Roper was a full-time minister of religion, but now I am beginning to see on which side his bread is really buttered. Over the last few months, the Rev. Roper has written several articles attacking environmentalists like myself for holding back the “social and economic development” of Jamaica.

He began his first piece in November last year stating that there is a “sustained anti-development lobby both in the media and between NGOs and environmentalists” holding back “more than J$20 billion worth of projects tied up between the parish councils and NEPA awaiting approvals.”

I must admit that I was taken in; I thought he had a serious concern, and I gently answered him a few days later, explaining that no environmentalist I knew was against genuine development, that what we are against is unsustainable development. A week or so later he repeated his charge. I did not then understand why he was taking so long to understand.

Repeated charge
And then last Wednesday in The Gleaner he repeated the charge, claiming that environmental NGOs believe that when an area becomes protected: “This has been interpreted by NGOs to mean that there is to be no developmental activity at all taking place in that area or on that tract of land so designated.”

He then proceeded to attack the NRCA and environmentalists for research taking place to determine whether the Great Morass at Holland Bay should become a protected wetland.

I was wasting my breath when I was trying to explain. He is not raising a matter of public interest, but acting on behalf of special interests.

After accusing “environmentalists and scientists” of behaving “like a new élite who know what is best for the rest of us” he then behaves like the old élite who want us to believe that their right to make money supercedes all other rights. It is this type of thinking that led to slavery!

He then makes the curious accusation that the NRCA, NEPA, the UWI and environmental lobby groups and NGOs “appear in general to have an incestuous relationship. It is difficult to tell where one begins and the other ends.” This, is not just nonsense. (Remember that last year, two environmental NGOs led by Wendy Lee and Diana McCaulay took the NRCA to court and won! How is that for differentiation!).
His statement is downright sinister! The Rev. Roper is directly calling on the NRCA to ignore environmental concerns in its decision-making process, to make it clear that their position is different from the positions of environmentalists.

The only incestuous relationship here is between the Rev. Roper and those who would have us believe that they are “developers”.

I would like to encourage the NRCA to call it as they see it!

And I would like to encourage the Rev. Roper to cancel his leave of absence and return to the pulpit. There, only a millstone around his neck awaits him.

Peter Espeut is a sociologist and is executive director of an environment and development NGO.

mood: mmeh
sounds: Joyce Meyer’s Radio Broadcast

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