GOB Withdraws appeal against legal ruling that oil concessions are null and void

Today, attorneys for the Government of Belize, Barrow & Company, filed a notice of withdrawal of appeal in the matter of Civil Appeal No. 18 of 2013: Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment and Oceana in Belize; Citizens Organized for Liberty and Action and the Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage. In this appeal, the Government had challenged an April 2013 decision issued by Justice Oswell Legall in favor of Oceana, COLA and the Coalition in their lawsuit challenging six Production Sharing Agreements allowing offshore oil drilling. In response to today’s developments Oceana in Belize’s Vice President Janelle Chanona stated,   “We view the decision by the Government of Belize to withdraw its appeal as a demonstration of the Dean Barrow administration’s commitment to safeguarding the country’s marine resources.” In his ruling, Justice Legall had ruled  that the six challenged PSAs were null and void because no environmental impact assessment was carried out before making the agreements and the agreements were entered into with companies who did not demonstrate appropriate capabilities.  He also ordered an injunction restraining the government from carrying out the provisions of the challenged PSAs. The government’s decision to file a Notice of Withdrawal of its appeal of Justice Legall’s decision today therefore affirms Justice Legall’s April 2013 decision. In addition to appealing Justice Legall’s ruling, the Government had obtained a stay of the injunction pending the appeal on the merits. The government has also agreed to lift the stay of that decision, for which Oceana and its co-plaintiffs will be filing an application shortly.

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