Cruise Port on Harvest Caye: Update on BTIA vs. NEAC/DOE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Belize City, Belize-July 21, 2015- On Friday, 17 July 2015, final arguments were presented in BTIA’s lawsuit against the Department of the Environment (DOE) and the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC). It was the culmination of a long legal process in the courtroom of Justice Courtney Abel that began over a year ago following DOE’s decision to approve the construction by Belize Island Holdings (Norwegian Cruise Line’s local operating company) of a cruise port at Harvest Caye, just three miles south of Placencia Village.

BTIA is claiming that the DOE and NEAC did not follow their own regulations regarding the Environmental impact Assessment (EIA) approval process involving proper public notice and terms of reference and that as a result the public must be given sufficient time to comment on the certain supplemental information requested by the DOE from Belize Island Holdings. The DOE is claiming that the EIA terms of reference were faithfully followed and, while admitting that the notice period was deficient, argued that the EIA regulations did not require that such public comment be solicited on the EIA supplemental information.

Members should note that the lawsuit did not seek to stop the project at Harvest Caye since seeking  an injunction would have run the risk of BTIA being liable for massive financial damages had the injunction been granted but we later lost the substantive case.

Lead attorney for Belize Island Holdings (which entered the case as an “Interested Party”), Eamon Courtenay, characterized BTIA’s lawsuit as “academic” in that even if successful it would not have any effect on the project, which was characterized as being 80% complete. BTIA’s lead counsel Godfrey Smith countered that large mass tourism projects now and in the future are of tremendous importance to Belizeans and the DOE must faithfully follow the nation’s laws if our future environment is to be protected.

Justice Abel’s decision is expected to be delivered by the end of August 2015.Win or lose President Osmany Salas and the BTIA Board of Directors would like to thank our attorneys Godfrey Smith, Leslie Mendez and Andrew Marshalleck for their hard work. We also thank the various BTIA chapters, past Presidents and members who have supported the entire campaign to make the Government of Belize enforce its own longstanding policies against the introduction of mass cruise tourism to southern Belize.

 

John Burgos

Executive Director

Belize Tourism Industry Association

execdirector@btia.org

Tel: 227-1144

 

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