The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, handed down a ruling in the Belize Tourism Industry Association’s (BTIA) case regarding the Harvest Caye cruise port, ordering the government to pay $50,000 for breach of procedure.
At the ruling, Justice Courtney Abel read a two-hour judgment, in which he sided with the claimants, BTIA, which had sued the Department of the Environment (DoE) and the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC). BTIA had accused the DoE and the NEAC of acting in indecent, improper and even illegal in hastily conducting consultations before green-lighting the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Harvest Caye Project, which Abel ruled in favor of.
Abel agreed that in conducting consultations with the public two years ago, the DoE breached the regulations of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). That EIA should have allowed for communities and stakeholders to be appraised of all proposed stages of development and consequent impacts, and allowed time for comments, criticism and input. In his judgment, Abel said based on the testimony given, it was clear the DoE had short-circuited and shortcut the procedure when indeed they should not have done so.
It is a ruling that may seem moot to some, since NCL’s cruise port is nearing completion and is scheduled for opening later this year. But for the BTIA, it is a vindication of their position which will provide guidelines to ensure