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Sep 11, 2013

Two environmental concerns found in Stake Bank Project

The Stake Bank Project seems just about set to go, but information from those in charge of the environmental checks and balances has still not been forthcoming. On Tuesday, September third, the National Environmental Appraisal Committee met in a prolonged session at the Belize Biltmore Plaza in Belize City. On the agenda was the two hundred million dollar tourism project proposed by the Feinstein Group of Companies. The thirteen-member NEAC is mandated to examine proposed projects and proffer a green light, red light, or a request for information or clarification. Best information reaching News Five is that at the end of last Tuesday’s session there was no decision taken and we have confirmed that the members of the committee were not asked to vote on the project. A credible source today told our newsroom that coming out of the day-long discussion and debate were two main concerns – one, the fuel lighters which the developer is proposing. In the project plan, those ships will moor just off the destination and refuel cruise ships. Another concern, the big one in from environmental quarters, is the causeway which passes through the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary. That sanctuary provides a natural habitat for manatees, which are an endangered species.  Our source told us that the meeting ended with those concerns on the table, and since then there has been no word from Chief Environmental Officer Martin Alegria or the Department of Environment. In an interview last week, Alegria told News Five that if NEAC approves the project, the next step would be an Environmental Compliance Plan. To our knowledge, no such approval has been given by the committee, which our source says has had no additional communication from Alegria. Interestingly enough, late last week, Minister Godwin Hulse confirmed that as far as he is aware, the Department of the Environment is preparing the Environmental Compliance Plan. So for all intents and purposes, with or without the full compliance and consent of NEAC, the Stake Bank Project has apparently gotten a green light from the D.O.E.  News Five has tried repeatedly today to get comment from Chief Environmental Officer Martin Alegria, but our attempts have been futile.

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1 Response for “Two environmental concerns found in Stake Bank Project”

  1. Soclear says:

    This is a clear example of the very flawed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process. You see, if GoB wants a project to go through, they will ignore the recommendations of NEAC. After all NEAC is only an advisory body so DoE picks and chooses when it wants to accept NEAC’s recommendations. Interesting this move from the Ministry of Sustainable Development.

    Actually as it is almost 85% Government, I am surprised they held up the project with their concerns. Generally, the Government representatives go along with Government’s position.

    The EIA process needs a rigourous over-haul. This project has significant potential economic (good and bad), social and environmental impacts. All must be equally considered in decision-making.

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