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Jun 30, 2014

Case hearing begins in judicial review of NCL project

In May, the Belize Tourism Industry Association filed a claim seeking judicial review of the decision to green-light Norwegian Cruise Line’s massive tourism project on Harvest Caye. This morning, the case began before Justice Courtenay Abel with submissions from Attorney Godfrey Smith for the B.T.I.A. and Deputy Solicitor-General Nigel Hawke for National Environmental Appraisal Committee and the Department of Environment. Belize Island Holding’s Limited, under which the NCL project is being developed, was represented by Eamon Courtenay. The matter was adjourned at midday, and News Five got comments from Smith and B.T.I.A. President, Herbert Haylock, as they came out the courtroom.

 

Godfrey Smith, Attorney for B.T.I.A.

Godfrey Smith

“In a nutshell we’re saying at this stage we just have to show the court that we have an arguable case that the DoE and the NEAC made a mistake. They made a mistake, in layman’s terms, by not recommending a public hearing when the law has a list of factors that should be considered in deciding whether to have a public hearing. So the environmental law lists like the magnitude of the project, the complexity of it…the magnitude of the investment, whether there is a deep interest in it by the public. We are saying all of these things existed, therefore the decision makers ought to have recommended a public hearing. But perhaps more egregiously, we are saying that before they could have gone on to consider whether to approve the EIA, they ought to have complied with the statute which says you must give the public two full weeks’ notice to get their comments together and submit it. When you look at the time when the EIA was submitted…twenty-first of February and the date when it was considered and approved by the DoE…which I believe was the fourth of March…two weeks hadn’t expired so they were rushing the thing and doing it in breach of the law which is set up there to make sure that the public has full opportunity to participate.”

 

Herbert Haylock

Herbert Haylock, President, B.T.I.A.

“In terms of looking at the issues of the initial EIA, I’m sure that you are all aware of some of the concerns that were stemming out of the gaps that were in that particular process. We ultimately would like to fall back to our original position in terms of standing on the principle on the grounds that where the master plan holds again a development of this magnitude in that particular region of the country. It is going against that and if there is a need for example to revisit this EIA process then obviously one of the basic tenets of that process would recommend and we’re saying that we want to see a hearing as part of that process…because we need to be able to ventilate and be able to provide the requisite information to the public and for the public to truly understand and to be able to comment on any development of this magnitude, which we feel has not been done initially.”

 

For the B.T.I.A. there is a sense of urgency to the hearing, since NCL has already started clearing of the land for development of the tourism destination. The parties will reappear in court on Wednesday.

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1 Response for “Case hearing begins in judicial review of NCL project”

  1. Timber says:

    How come they could start development when this issue is lingering in court? Wasn’t there an injunction requested or issued? The ironical part in this that Godfrey and Eamon are on opposite sides but yet they do business together. I hope they don’t wind up colluding with each other and wind up screwing someone for their own personal gains.

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