By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter
The Belize Tourism Industry Association has threatened to file for an injunction against the Harvest Caye project, if Norwegian Cruise Line does not halt the development.
BTIA officialized their ultimatum on Monday, when they also announced that they’ve applied for judicial review of the National Environmental Appraisal Committee’s approval of the project.
BTIA’s attorney, Godfrey Smith, explained that BTIA will send a letter to NCL to ask them to delay the start of the initiative until the court makes a decision on the tourism association’s application for leave to bring judicial review against NEAC and the Department of the Environment (DOE).
Smith explained that after filing the application for leave to bring judicial review against NEAC and DOE, it may take anywhere from two-weeks to a month to get a hearing on the application.
He added that the essence of the BTIA’s challenge is the decision from NEAC not to recommend a public hearing even though the circumstances, according to law, required it.
The other challenge is that, in breach of regulation and environmental laws, the required publications and notice requirements were not met.
“Effectively, they approved an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which failed to meet the standard minimum requirements set out in the environmental laws of Belize and secondly they effectively approved an EIA and its addendum which, when properly examined, itself failed to meet terms of reference set for those developers by DOE,” Smith said.
BTIA President, Herbert Haylock reaffirmed the BTIA’s position of objection to NCL’s development of Harvest Caye into a cruise tourism port and said that the filing of the application is a step forward and the BTIA would seek further legal actions if NCL is unresponsive.
Stuart Krohn, the chairman of the Placencia Chapter of BTIA, said that many people believe that NEAC’s and DOE’s approval is a done deal but he emphasized that that is not the case.
BTIA will remain committed to challenging this decision that will have great national impact, Krohn said.