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Feb 7, 2014

NEAC hearings on NCL development project is postponed indefinitely

There was a recent emotional and fiery consultation on the proposed multimillion dollar tourism project at Harvest Caye by Norwegian Cruise Lines. By all accounts, stakeholders in the south vehemently opposed the project which still has to go before the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC). That working group is charged with reviewing and approving the Environmental Impact Assessment by NCL for the development of the project. There was a meeting of NEAC set for February twelfth.  But the news tonight, however, is that the multimillion dollar investment project has been put on hold indefinitely because the hearings have been postponed.  The EIA presented, we are told, is a previous assessment for a preceding project which was also planned for Harvest Caye.  Earlier today, News Five spoke with Mike Heusner, a member of the committee.

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Via Phone: Mike Heusner, Committee Member, NEAC

Mike Heusner

“The EIA is not very clear, as it says a hundred and fifty to two hundred jobs.  B.T.B. and its personnel has said, “Oh it will be eight hundred to a thousand jobs which will be spin-offs.”  But at the public consultation held in Independence a couple weeks ago, a lot of the people there just didn’t believe that it’s worth the while or did not understand or did not understand the errors of the poorly written EIA.  To summarize, I think one EIA for a Harvest Caye eco-resort was copied and paste but unfortunately very little editing, you know, it has some serious errors which doesn’t itself, when you cancel out these little errors doesn’t destroy the EIA but it makes it questionable [as to] who wrote the EIA or who wrote it for who.  So now we asked the NEAC members after the consultation, had asked for an extension of the date for NEAC to hear this report officially.  So we had rescheduled, the Department of the Environment had agreed to reschedule it for February twelfth, along with another EIA project.  But all of a sudden today I seen in the Amandala that it may be postponed indefinitely due to a quote, directive from Cabinet because they want to check more details or something on the socio-economic impacts of this Harvest Caye project, cruise ship project for southern Belize.  So I’m not sure what the present official position is on the EIA hearing, I think it’s going to be discussed or maybe further postponed because the EIA either has to be rewritten or a serious addendum has to be made to correct errors and explain things that were not explained.  A lot of things were just superficially covered and the terms of reference says that they should do a more thorough job.”

 

From the onset the Harvest Caye tourism development project has been met with opposition from tourism stakeholders in southern Belize, particularly by residents of neighboring Placencia who are involved in overnight tourism.

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