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Cruise port developers line up against each other in Supreme Court

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Posted: Wednesday, December 22, 2021. 9:02 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Waterloo Enterprises Limited was not successful in obtaining its most dearly-held Christmas gift: approval of an Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP) to continue its project in and around the Port of Belize in Southside Belize City.

It will settle instead for being an interested party – emphasis on “interested” – in the Supreme Court case pitting the developers of Stake Bank/Port Coral and the Port of Magical Belize. Other interested parties include the Attorney General’s Ministry, the National Environmental Appraisal Committee, and the Department of the Environment.

Put simply, Stake Bank is challenging its would-be competitor’s ability to operate as a cruise port in the Belize District and its approvals from the Department of the Environment.

So how does this affect Waterloo? Attorney Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith explained it to Channel 7 News this way: “When they applied for leave, Stake Bank argued that they had a legitimate expectation to be the only cruise port developer in the Belize District… If they succeed on that, obviously Port Magical would not be able to proceed but Waterloo also would not be able to proceed.”

Smith continued that Stake Bank is also arguing to be directly consulted and even that they should have a say in the approval process of the DOE/NEAC. That, Smith said, converted Waterloo from a “meddlesome busybody” into a significant part of the case.

After a virtual hearing, Justice Lisa Shoman approved Waterloo joining the case over the objections of Stake Bank; none of the other parties disagreed.

And as for Waterloo’s standing, Smith argues that Waterloo is not at its endpoint. It has already spent $10 million on its plan and will go through the appeal process against the NEAC decision; Smith said that as an interested developer, that is enough standing to join the case.

As for the race to be the first cruise port, Smith acknowledged that Stake Bank is very much in the lead, although they (Stake Bank) claim that there is enough uncertainty that they have not been able to get deals with the major cruise lines. Nonetheless, he conceded that the joining of Waterloo could hold up Stake Bank’s plans, at least until next February 8 to 10 when the case is heard after written submissions.

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