Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2022. 11:02 am CST.
By Benjamin Flowers: Belize may be in danger of more litigation with British billionaire Michael Ashcroft, after the National Environmental Appraisal Committee’s (NEAC’s) reported rejection of the Waterloo cruise port expansion project proposal.
While an official statement from the Government of Belize is pending, several credible news reports have stated that NEAC unanimously voted down the project.
News of NEAC’s rejection came on Thursday, November 24, with reported confirmation by Minister of Sustainable Development Orlando Habet. The rationale behind the no vote was that the company Waterloo Investment Holdings Ltd. had said it would only proceed with cargo expansion if the cruise terminal was approved.
This latest rejection marks the second time the project has been shot down at the hands of the NEAC, the first being in December of 2021, which was followed by a letter threatening international arbitration in January 2022.
Ashcroft, the Chairman of Waterloo, stressed in his letter that GOB was in violation of a 1982 Treaty with the United Kingdom, which speaks to the promotion and protection of Investments. Ashcroft further alleged that GOB’s conduct had led investors to Belize that compliance with environmental procedures would have guaranteed the NEAC’s approval, so they went ahead and invested upwards of US$5 million in the project.
Instead of launching any legal battles; however, Waterloo sent an amended Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to the Department of the Environment (DOE), with the hopes to get NEAC’s approval the second time around. With that response now a resounding “no,” it remains to be seen what Waterloo’s next move will be.
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