NWC President and his wife avoid prosecution in relation to environmental permit beach following DPP ruling

President of the National Water Commission (NWC) Mark Barnett and his wife Annette Francis-Barnett, will not be prosecuted in connection with allegations that they breached an environmental permit – an offence under the Natural Resources Conservation Authority Act (NRCA).

This following a ruling by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) yesterday. 

Mr. Barnett who has been the NWC Head since 2015, was placed on administrative leave last October, following allegations of irregularities in the approval processes, which led to the construction of a residential development in Charlemont Drive, Kingston 6. 

In the ruling, the ODPP explained that although the allegations support the laying of criminal charges against Mr. Barnett and his wife, the initiation of the prosecution is time sensitive. 

The ODPP explained further that since the prosecution was not initiated within 12 months of the identified breach, the criminal action is now statute-barred. 

Therefore, there can be no prosecution. 

However, the ODPP outlined several recommendations, which it said could help to remedy some of the deficiencies observed in its investigations. 

The ODPP called for an amendment to Section 37 of the NRCA, which it said would enlarge the time within which prosecution should take place. 

It added that there should be a review by the National Environment Planning Agency (NEPA) of its administrative processes, as to when and how the decision is taken to initiate prosecution in a timely manner under the NRCA once there has been a breach of that legislation.  

The ODPP also noted that regulations should be implemented under the Building Act, as this would implement a precise documentary framework, which will assist in the operations of the Municipality. 

It added that the staff and officers should be trained in the Building Act and other legislation relevant to Local Government. 

This may include training concerning the ethical parameters within which the execution of their remit under the various statuses should be conducted. 

The ODPP also called for an administrative review by the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) which would lead to the enhancement and strengthening of accountability procedures, making them more robust. 

This it said should include considerations regarding the exercise of discretion in treating with an observed breach. 

This includes dealing with a breach by way of a fixed penalty regime, or whether it would be in the public’s interest, that the issue be addressed through the courts.


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