HARVEST CAYE PROJECT-SUPREME COURT CASE: BTIA VS THE NATIONAL ENVIRONMENT APPRAISAL COMMITTEE AND THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT

FOE IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Belize City, Belize–On Wednesday, 13 January 2016, the Belize Supreme Court ruled on BTIA’s lawsuit against the Department of the Environment (DOE) and the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC) following the DOE’s decision to approve the construction by Belize Island Holdings (BIHL) of a cruise port at Harvest Caye, just three miles south of Placencia Village.

The Hon. Justice Abel declared that there was a breach of Regulation 20 of the EIA Regulations concerning to the published notice in relation to the Addendum to the EIA. The court also ruled that the content of the published notice was deficient in various areas and, very significantly, that the decision of the NEAC to recommend the approval of the EIA was in breach of EIA Regulations, prior to considering the EIA for approval. In delivering the judgement, the Hon. Justice Abel also observed that the consultation process was somewhat short-circuited and that short cuts were taken, “which ought not to have happened, and one hopes this will not happen in a similar situation in the future”.

The Court determined that BTIA was “largely and significantly” successful against the DOE, NEAC and BIHL, and ruled that the Defendants should pay the cost of the Court proceedings in the sum of $50,000. The Court judgment means that the DOE and the NEAC must now do a better job at discharging their legal responsibilities to safeguard Belize’s natural resources and administer Belize’s environmental regulations fairly and responsibly. Click here to view the full judgment.

“BTIA is not against large tourism development projects. It has always advocated that the Government of Belize must ensure that the EIA process is fully complied with, no matter who the developer is, and that meaningful public consultation is had in the interest of safeguarding Belize’s natural and cultural resources. It is the integrity of these resources that makes us a premier tourism destination”, said President of BTIA, Osmany Salas.

The BTIA expresses its sincere gratitude to legal counsels Mr. Godfrey P. Smith and Mr. Andrew Marshalleck assisted by Ms. Leslie Mendez and Dr. Heide Weiskel from E-LAW for her support and technical expertise at the witness stand, and to ALL our members for believing in the substantial importance of this case that sets precedent for future projects to follow due process.

John Burgos
Executive Director
Belize Tourism Industry Association
execdirector@btia.org
Tel: 227-1144

–ENDS–