By Aaron Humes: The Department of the Environment has written Waterloo Investment Holdings, developers behind the Port of Belize Limited/Waterloo Development Project for a combined expanded cargo and cruise port project, explaining their decision to deny environmental clearance on the recommendation of the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC).
The NEAC met on November 24 and voted down the project because of still-active environmental concerns over dredging in the area and where the spoils would land. That vote was said to have been unanimous; however, on December 1, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry said it dissented from the vote despite not having its representative in attendance.
In a statement, the Chamber said that “the BCCI representative was unable to attend the meeting … so the BCCI vote did not take into account any technical or scientific comments … shared at the meeting.”
But the Department states that per the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, no member of the NEAC can vote without attending the meeting, and there was no allowance for virtual or remote participation at the November 24 meeting. Hence, essentially, the Chamber had no vote and so the final tally was unanimous against the project.
The Department added that the BCCI suggestion that it could have voted without taking into account any scientific and technical reports shared at the meeting, is inconsistent with good decision-making practices and the standard for responsible committee membership.
Waterloo Investments has the option of lodging an appeal with Minister for Sustainable Development Orlando Habet, with court action also a possibility if that doesn’t go their way.