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Apr 25, 2013

Dredging on Ambergris Caye stopped

An unsanctioned development project that threatens the environment on Little Iguana Caye in the Bacalar Chico area of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye has been discovered by authorities. The Department of the Environment and other government agencies have moved swiftly to halt that project by U.S. investors because the requirement process in respect of EIAs and other clearances was not obtained. We will have more on than that story on Friday, but tonight, we can confirm that another project which involved dredging near the San Pedro Marina Channel has come to a complete standstill.  Following a story News Five aired last Friday, the excess dredging of sediment near a property belonging to Royal Belizean Land Company caught the attention of authorities, who descended on the island on Wednesday. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Permission for the excavation of deposit within a previously approved area, southwest of San Pedro Town, granted to real estate developer Darrin Sherry, has been revoked following a site assessment conducted by the Mining Unit of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture on Wednesday.  As we reported, a few days ago, Royal Belizean Land, had been given the green light to dredge a burrow measuring two hundred by one hundred feet in area, at a depth of six feet.  Despite the accepted conditions, work in the area has exceeded the prescribed dimensions, forcing government to shut down the operation.  Martin Alegria is the Chief Environmental Officer with the Department of the Environment.

 

Martin Alegria

Martin Alegria, Chief Environmental Officer, DOE

“Evidence from the site visit is that there has already been some dredging activity occurring, approximately five hundred feet or so already dredged and filled; one filling up mangrove areas; secondly, not following the proper guideline that we are aware of when you do types of dredging of that type and in that location.”

 

A letter written to Sherry by the Inspector of Mines cites four specific violations.  The total volume of sand, silt and mud extracted from the given site is too much and the method used to remove the sediments did not involve a suction dredge.  Instead, Sherry contracted an excavator to do the unearthing.

 

Martin Alegria

“Sometime late last year, in August or September last year, an application came in from the said developer asking or requesting permission to dredge and fill a thousand cubic yards max, to try to develop part of his property which is 1.5 acres to build a private residence, two story, three bedrooms.  And hence, you know, looking at that type of level of development, looking at the site there were some concerns.  So we basically assured ourselves and wrote them back and said, “You know, the site that you are thinking of developing is kind of sensitive.  What you are proposing is a residential area.  How will you get water, electricity?”

 

Those queries, says Alegria, were in line with a request for a development plan.  That proposal was not submitted to any of the relevant agencies, including the San Pedro Town Council.

 

Mito Paz

Mito Paz, Deputy Mayor, San Pedro Town [File: April 19th, 2013]

“He hasn’t really submitted a plan, a developmental plan. He has only requested a recommendation for dredging fifteen thousand cubic yards of dredge material. Until we see the plans, you know, he’ll probably have to submit developmental plans to the local building authority.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What is your position or your impression on the fact that a recommendation was given by the San Pedro Town Council for this type of activity to take place in the absence of consultation with those who are in the know?”

 

Martin Alegria

“There are certain legislated requirements prior to any physical development, let’s say, can occur and, of course, some decision makers would, in principle, support investment coming into Belize contingent or conditional on [the fact that] the laws of Belize are abided by and complied with in terms of the procedures, permits and licenses.”

 

Those conditions, it would seem, were completely foregone by the San Pedro Town Council when Mayor Daniel Guerrero recommended the undertaking of the project.  In light of the subsequent breach, Permit Number Fifty-Eight for 2013, issued to Darrin Sherry for Royal Belizean Land Company, has been revoked and failure to adhere to the instruction will result in legal action. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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5 Responses for “Dredging on Ambergris Caye stopped”

  1. Bear says:

    Bad mayor Guerrero!

    Good that the criminal work was stopped. But will it resume after payment of some — ahem — further consideration, or will the island be protected permanently?

    At least it’s a step in the right direction.

    THE GOOD PEOPLE OF THE ISLAND NEED TO DECIDE WHAT TO DO WITH THEIR PUBLIC OFFICIALS WHO ARE EITHER INCOMPETENT, CORRUPT, OR BOTH.

  2. lp says:

    Mayor Guerrero is behind this. No one would be crazy enough to begin dredging in a delicate area such as Little Iguana Caye without permission. The mayor washed his hands after he was caught! Good job Department of the environment for stopping this corrupt act!

  3. luis says:

    Permit should be voided completely and not reinstated not even with new study, they started to dredge thinking he could surpase the process….I say fine the owner and the contractor doing the work as the contractor should know better and place lien until damage is assessed and paid on property for damage caused to this fish haven area well know to all.

    I keep saying SPC needs a separate Building Authority….with inspector and code enforcement department to keep growing in a very delicate area.

    In the US you go to jail for doing this…..

  4. luis says:

    This Permit should be voided completely and not reinstated not even with new study, they started to dredge thinking he could surpase the process….I say fine the owner and the contractor doing the work as the contractor should know better and place lien until damage is assessed and paid on property for damage caused to this fish haven area well know to all.

    I keep saying SPC needs a separate Building Authority….with inspector and code enforcement department to keep growing in a very delicate area.

    In the US you go to jail for doing this…..

  5. Neville says:

    If the law provided that the real property would be FORFEITED when unpermitted dredging or other activity that violates the environmental laws takes place, the illegal activity would stop soon enough. Small fines are just a nuisance, a cost of doing illegal business. Penalties must hurt so much they won’t be risked.

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