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Jan 12, 2023

Waterloo Principals Appeal; D.O.E.’s Decision to Go Before Tribunal

We begin tonight’s newscast with an update on the Port of Belize Expansion Project. In December, the developers lodged an appeal against the decision made by the Chief Environmental Officer to reject its proposal. In late November 2022, the environmental impact assessment for the Port of Belize cargo expansion, cruise terminal and tourism village project went before the National Environmental Appraisal Committee, NEAC, and all but one of the sixteen members voted against the project and the recommendation was made to the Department of Environment. But it wasn’t the end all for the project and the developers are invoking section twenty-seven of the Environmental Protection Act, which will see a three-member tribunal reconsider the decision. Minister Habet breaks down what this means.


Orlando Habet

Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management

“We have to follow the regulation and the regulation calls for the formation of the tribunal – one person coming as a magistrate that is selected by the chief magistrate or a justice coming from the Supreme Court. The second person being the senator responsible for business and the third would be one person who is a professional in the environmental field, ecology as a person nominated or assigned by the minister responsible for sustainable development.”



“Sir, do you think the law needs to be changed though because people are saying well you have a three-member tribunal being able to overturn the decision of sixteen people who are actually experts? Will this be a public hearing, public deliberation of this tribunal?”


Orlando Habet

“I wouldn’t be able to tell if it is public because based on section twenty-seven, if you follow through, it also tells you that the tribunal will form its own proceedings, will guide itself with their own principles and proceedings. So we don’t know if they will say it is going to be a public hearing or not or if it will be in closed quarters. But certainly in regards to the legislation and I have heard the concerns that you have fourteen or fifteen members of NEAC going through this assessment, coming from professionals in the field and some administrators, and then you put it to a three-person tribunal. If you look at how our courts operate, we know that you go to the magistrate or the chief justice and if you don’t get justice served in your opinion, then you could go to an appeal and normally the appeal would go as far as the CCJ and then you have a three-person tribunal. So it goes from one to three and now we are going from fourteen to three. So looking at it from that standpoint, I believe that maybe there is something that we will have to do in terms of amendment of the regulations. From my standpoint, I am not a learned attorney, I think from where we stand and the interpretation of the regulations, it is telling you that this appeal has already sent that appeal to the minister. So I don’t know if any changes can be made now because that is already in process. But certainly for the future it is something that we have to consider.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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