Tuesday, July 21, 2015. BMG: Supreme Court Justice Courtney Abel is to decide on the case of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) versus the Department of the Environment (DOE) and National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC) following the conclusion of the case on Friday, July 17.
BTIA’s suit accuses the Department and the Committee of not following their own regulations regarding the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) concerning proper public notice and terms of reference on supplemental information requested by the Department from Belize Island Holdings, the company which is managing the Harvest Cae cruise port project for Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL).
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, the BTIA said in a press release.
The Association admits it cannot stop the project because an injunction would have seen BTIA risk liability for financial damages if the case was lost.
Lead attorney for Belize Island Holdings (which entered the case as an “Interested Party”), Eamon Courtenay, and 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, following written submissions.
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