The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) is insisting that the Department of the Environment’s National Environmental Apparaisal Committee erred in approving the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and addendum for the Norwegian Cruise Lines project at Harvest Caye.
BTIA attorney Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith wrote to Chief Environmental Officer Martin Alegria detailing their concerns and warning of court action if they do not reconsider their decision.
But the Government’s chief attorneys at the Solicitor General’s Office wrote back on behalf of the DOE, saying they see nothing wrong. Now, BTIA president Herbert Haylock says they will take the matter to court. This audio interview is courtesy LOVE FM.
“We are not satisfied that it has answered the concerns that we have put forward in our request to DOE. We have looked at the information that they have sent us and based on that, we have directed our legal council to proceed in the course of action that we have outlined the DOE that we would proceed with, which is the judicial review”.
Reporter: “So, when you say that the BTIA is not satisfied, can you elaborate on what information that was sent to them?”
Herbert Haylock: “Essentially, we have a response to this claiming that in this instance, the DOE and NEAC have fulfilled the law obligations and the basic things that they should have done. We are of a contrary opinion to that. Again, as we have laid for in our initial letter to the DOE, outlining several different points on the environmental end and more importantly on the procedure as it relates to the execution, or at least, coming for public hearing on the matter”.
According to Haylock, there was not substantive consultation on the issue. There was one public hearing held in Independence village which raised many questions and few answers.
Herbert Haylock: “We do not feel that the consultation, as we have counted out, was substantive cut off to have allowed for the couple’s ventilation and discussion on the issues and, for those of you who have may have been in the consultation, I will show you they can recall and remember that there was substantive questions and issues raised on that session. We, again, in our request, are seeking the provision of the hearing where we see that it would allow four and more effective dialogue in this course on the issue…of our issues, I would say (because there are multiple concerns that came out at that consultation and that we have sighted in relation to what has been provided on one in respect of the EIA, and again, in relation to what we understand, was an addendum as well, provided to the subsequent consultation of certain things that were brought forward”.
The BTIA also maintains its stance that the development does not fit the stated goals of the National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan which was approved by Cabinet.
Herbert Haylock: “On that particular location does not call for this magnitude. We have opposed the construction from the very start because of the location of that particular development. We have pointed out that that there are alternatives in terms of the development that the master plan considers; it looks at the Belize District environment, and the city environment at that type of development at that magnitude, and we have been looking at ensuring that (if you have a plan of that nature with the industry, had been calling for and seeking for years and a plan like that is essentially put together and confirmed and taken up to the level of Cabinet and give approval and accepted as a plan for development, and six or seven months later, you are disregard it completely, the objective set out in that plan, we have a problem”.
A date for the matter has not been set.