Two men have been fined after they were found guilty of operating without a sawmill licence when they appeared in the Hanover Parish Court, on Tuesday, April 18.
Alrick Grant of a Lucea address was charged with trading in locally produced lumber without a licence and Prince Phillips, also of a Lucea address, was charged with storing locally produced lumber without a licence. Both men have been fined $10,000 each or will serve ten months imprisonment in default of payment.
Acting Enforcement Manager at the Forestry Department, Mr. Sean Munroe, says members of the Agency’s Enforcement Branch conducted a series of joint police operations in several parishes across the island to follow up on Notices of Contravention previously served on individuals.
“As a result of these joint operations individuals were issued final warnings regarding non-compliance with Sections of the Forest Act and accompanying Regulations applicable to the operations of sawmills, trading, storing and purchasing locally produced timber. Consequently, two individuals were brought before the Hanover Parish Court. The individuals pleaded guilty to breaches of Regulations 25 and were fined,” he said.
Mr. Munroe noted that the Agency is in the process of bringing additional persons before the courts and will continue its joint operations with the police across the island in order to ensure strict compliance with the forest laws. In the meantime he encourages sawmill operators to get or renew their sawmill licences.
“One of the men who have been charged has since got his licence so we are saying to the public, if you are in the sawmill industry, get a licence to operate your sawmill. Do not wait until you are served a summons to then apply for your licence. Call the Forestry Department or visit any of our offices across the island to start the process as we will continue to work with the police to clamp down on illegal operators.” Mr. Munroe said.
Under the Forest Regulations, 2001 persons who use machinery or equipment to saw or cut logs into planks, boards, slabs or any other form of sawn or cut timber or persons who trade in or store locally produced lumber must have a licence to conduct these activities. To get the licence, operators of sawmills must complete an application form and once approved, pay an annual fee of $15,000. The licence is valid for one calendar year.
“Any sawmill operator found to be in breach of the requirement will be liable for prosecution and could be fined a maximum of $50,000, or in default of payment, could be sentenced to up to one year in prison,” Mr. Munroe noted.
The Forestry Department launched the sawmill licensing programme in September 2014 and it is aimed at regulating the island’s sawmilling industry as well as providing greater protection for the country’s forests.
Application forms for sawmill licences are available on the Forestry Department’s website, www.forestry.gov.jm, as well as at its Head Office, 173 Constant Spring Road and all its Zonal and Regional Offices.
For more information, persons may contact the Agency at 924-2667-8.