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Government questions Chief Environmental Officer on causeway “approvals”

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martin alegria

Posted: Wednesday, October 20, 2021. 8:32 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Government has issued a comprehensive update on its approach to cruise ports and attendant environmental issues.

The status of each port will be dealt with in a separate story, but the big news coming from the statement is that Belmopan has ordered a full review of the process leading to the apparent approval of the proposed causeway from Belize City to Northern Drowned Caye, the development of that island, and the causeway to Stake Bank.

After briefing Cabinet, Chief Environmental Officer Martin Alegria has been directed to fully report “on the factual circumstances associated with the processes engaged to seek regulatory approvals for these development projects. Cabinet will make available to social partners and the public the report and evidence produced and if there has been non-compliance with relevant regulatory processes and approvals, appropriate action will be taken including, if necessary, the rescission of purported permits or licenses.”

Two former Ministers of Government – former Minister of the Environment Dr. Omar Figueroa and Tracey Taegar-Panton – have explicitly denied making any approvals for the controversial causeways.

This administration posits that “the causeways and the Northern Drowned Caye development to be real estate-related, and therefore, unlike Stake Bank, not foundational to the cruise tourism sector. … the viability of the Stake Bank cruise facility, for its investors and financiers, is NOT contingent on the construction of causeways to the mainland.”

Overall, Cabinet says, the project is in construction and is otherwise compliant, and according to its developers, expects to be operational in 2022.

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