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NCL’s EIA sparks controversy

By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter

Unconfirmed reports say that the National Environmental Appraisal Committee has reviewed Norwegian Cruise Line’s amended Environmental Impact Assessment and approved the project despite unanimous public disapproval, Michael Heusner, NEAC Belize Tourism Industry Association representative, said.
Heusner confirmed to The Reporter that NEAC met Tuesday, but he was not able to make it to the meeting.
He explained, however, that he did send a written version of his vote, although he does not know if his vote was indeed counted en absentia.
Heusner said he had tried to find out the results of the meeting from the Department of the Environment (DOE) but he was told that the information would not be available to him until Chief Environmental Officer, Martin Alegria, who is presently out of the country, returns.
“In addition to the scientific and environmental issues, NCL has failed to address key social and economic issues,” Stuart Krohn, Chairman of the Placencia Chapter of the BTIA said, referring to NCL amended EIA.
Mary Toy, of the Peninsula Citizens for Sustainable Development (PCSD), also told Reporter that the EIA was still not adequate enough.
The PCSD also presented comments from several experts, including Dr. Heidi W. Weiskel, staff scientist at the Environmental Law Alliance, who stated:
“In summary, the revised and additional information provided by the project proponents in the ‘S.I. One’ document actually suggests that the project is less feasible than originally considered, rather than more so.”
The Reporter contacted Minister of Forestry, Fisheries, and Sustainable Development,Lisel Alamilla to confirm the results of the NEAC meeting on Tuesday, but she would only refer us to Alegria.
In January, NCL faced heavy criticism during a public consultations in Independence Village.
Following this consultation the NEAC hearing was postponed indefinitely until the NCL amended itsEIA.
NCL intends to build a major cruise tourism port at Harvest Caye, but many southern stakeholders maintain that the project is not in harmony with the National Sustainable Tourism Masterplan for Belize.

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