BTIA continues opposition to Norwegian Harvest Caye development Print E-mail
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Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00

The Belize Tourism Industry Association has filed an application for Judicial Review Proceedings to challenge the decision of the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC) and the Department of Environment when they approved Norwegian Cruise Line’s Harvest Caye Cruise Port project.

On Friday, March 28, the BTIA’s attorney, Godfrey Smith, wrote to Martin Allegria, the Chief Environmental Officer, who is also the Chair of NEAC demanding that they rescind their approval of the project citing a lengthy list of environmental regulations that the project violates. The BTIA also demanded that the appraisal committee put the NCL environmental impact assessment to a public hearing, which is different from the public consultation held in Independence Village on January 22. Their reasoning is that by way of a public hearing, they believe that all the scientific environmental concerns would be better documented and considered than if they only submitted their concerns in writing. Another major concern of the BTIA is that there was an appearance of secrecy to try to quell the opposition to the project by failing to publish all relevant information for public consumption in a timely basis, as required when dealing with environmental impact assessments.

 Well on April 14, the Acting Solicitor General Nigel Hawke responded on behalf of Allegria and the Government stating clearly that there is absolutely no reason to rescind the approval from NEAC since all matters related to the project and its environmental concerns were properly dealt with in the meetings of the committee before the approval was given. Responding to the demand for a public consultation, the letter from the Government said that the Environmental Appraisal Committee reviewed the matter carefully and determined that a public hearing was not necessary. It ended by stating that the Committee acted responsibly and within the law when the NCL Harvest Caye Project was approved.

 BTIA, which has been one of the loudest voices of opposition to the project since its initial stages, is not accepting the response or the decision, and so they’ve applied to the Supreme Court to hear the matter by way of judicial review proceedings. The association wants the court to intervene and overturn the decision.

The BTIA is waiting for their court date, and in that time, they will make contact with the executive members of Norwegian Cruise Line and request that an undertaking is reached that no work will begin on the Harvest Caye Cruise Port until this judicial review case is completed. If the company does not agree to that undertaking, the BTIA will seek to restrain them by way of an injunction.

It is interesting that a few can hold an entire industry ransom especially when the industry will bring development and employment  to an area which is wanting and needing of development and employment.