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#483658 - 01/22/14 09:44 AM Public Consultation For Cruise Project
Marty Offline
Residents of the Stann Creek and Toledo Districts are preparing for a public meeting to discuss the Environmental Impact Assessment for Norwegian Cruise Line's proposed cruise port on Harvest caye - south of Placencia. The consultation on what is in a cruel twist of the English Language is called "Harvest Caye Nature Park" will be held at the Independence High School Compound.

7News confirmed today with Emilio Zabaneh the Secretary of the Independence Village Council that NCL representatives have been making rounds in about 20 villages from Placencia to Bella Vista trying to bring out people attend this important public meeting.

Viewers may remember that the Government has green lighted a cruise port of call on Harvest Caye, which has been hotly debated and contested by private cruise interests on Placencia, who say that it will negatively impact tourism in the south.

Those nay-sayers along with those in support will get an opportunity tomorrow to speak with NCL and the Department of the Environment to discuss the pros and the cons. NCL and the Government wants as many people as possible to weigh in because they want as many suggests to pool from in this consultation process.

It takes place at 7 p.m. at the Independence High school Auditorium, and everyone is invited.

Channel 7


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#483782 - 01/23/14 09:42 AM Re: Public Consultation For Cruise Project [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

NCL consultation attracts a large crowd

At this hour, the Environmental Impact Assessment into the Norwegian Cruise Lines project is taking place at the Independence High School Auditorium in the south. A News Five crew on the ground is reporting a massive turnout of those in support and those against the multimillion dollar tourism project. The project attracted controversy and strong opposition since it first came to light. NCL says it will invest fifty million dollars and create hundreds of jobs, but the residents of the area believe that the magnitude of the project is contrary to the National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan which recommends small pocket tourism. The issue of the head tax is also a major concern because it is felt that government is getting the raw end of the deal. We will have all details of consultations in Thursday’s newscast.

Channel 5


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#483813 - 01/23/14 12:51 PM Re: Public Consultation For Cruise Project [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Could this project have been pronounced dead before last nights consultations? About 200 people showed, 40 lined up to speak and of those, only 4 were supportive of the cruise terminal on Harvest Caye. The EIA was weak and full of contradictions. Not sure why NCL did not put on more of a show, bus more folks in, but that worries me. Assuming the Feinstein project in Belize City will be approved instead. Your guess as good as mine
_________________________
Belize based travel specialist
www.belize-trips.com
info@belize-trips.com

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#483816 - 01/23/14 01:03 PM Re: Public Consultation For Cruise Project [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Placencia cruise GROUP


All I can say is that you should have been there. 200 people showed up, about 40 people made comments, and of those 40, about 5 were FOR NCL. The rest, AGAINST! And, it just wasn't emotion - it was substantive comments about dredging, the water supply, garbage, siltation, birds, fish, manatee, water quality, loss of jobs in other industries, lack of provision for local entrepreneurs, kickback of head tax, the poor quality of the EIA (which was the overriding theme of the night). Channel 5, Channel 7 and PG-TV were there and recorded the WHOLE thing, so there can't be any doubt about what happened. Meeting wasn't over until about 11:30 PM, so I didn't get back to Placencia and to bed until until around 2 AM. Therefore, I'm a little off my game this morning, but will try to post some video clips later today. It was good. Doesn't mean that NEAC can't still approve it, but last night was very, very good.


Edited by Katie Valk (01/23/14 01:03 PM)
_________________________
Belize based travel specialist
www.belize-trips.com
info@belize-trips.com

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#483880 - 01/24/14 09:23 AM Re: Public Consultation For Cruise Project [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Thank you message from PBTIA chairman

On behalf of the Placencia BTIA board of directors I would like to thank all those who attended last night’s public consultation on the EIA for the Harvest Caye cruise port. It was clear to all present that the citizens of southern Belize have serious concerns about the introduction of mass cruise tourism to our area by Norwegian Cruise Line and are not afraid to speak their minds in defense of our natural heritage and economic sovereignty.

While we are heartened by the public’s support of BTIA’s long held position we realize that the way forward will not be easy. At the very least we believe that the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC), which meets January 29, will order wholesale revisions in the poorly drafted EIA if not an entirely new document. At the same time NEAC should, according to the Environmental Protection Act, set a date for a formal public hearing (as opposed to a mere consultation) on the merits of the project.

While this is going on we must also focus on the more difficult task of convincing the political directorate that their original decision to endorse the project was both premature and in error. Disclosures last night by NCL executives make clear that the economic benefits promised by NCL are in fact illusory and certainly not worth the costs to the nation. This is even more obvious given the introduction of legislation yesterday in the House of Representatives to facilitate the development of a new cruise port, Stake Bank, in Belize City. To better familiarize members with our position I have attached a document that explains our objections to the EIA and the project itself.

Again thanks to all who supported our position and attended the consultation. Special kudos to those who stepped up to the microphone. For those not used to doing it regularly, it is not easy to stand in front of hundreds of people and try to sound both calm and intelligent. Nervous or not, what made last night special was that our people spoke from their hearts.

Stewart Krohn, Chairman, PBTIA


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#483885 - 01/24/14 09:43 AM Re: Public Consultation For Cruise Project [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Cruise Consultation In Independence Is Incendiary, Illuminating

Since April of last year there has been a campaign in the south from private tourism interests who are trying to resist multinational cruise company Norewegian Cruise Line from building a port to call near to the Placencia peninsula.

The campaign has been creative, but after months of small encounters between the two, both entities met under one roof in Independence Village for a public consultation meeting for the Environmental Impact Assessment on the proposed port to be built on Harvest Caye.

NCL is at the final stages to getting the project off the ground, but those private interests and concerned environmentalists are determined to fight to the very end. 7News was embedded in that meeting last night where sparks flew. Daniel Ortiz has this report:

Daniel Ortiz reporting
About 320 residents of the South gathered at the Independence High School Auditorium last night. They listened intently to the presentations made by the representatives of Norwegian Cruise Line and their environmental consultant.

They were polite, waiting for the opportune moment where they could address the developer, and as soon as they could, the simmering undercurrent of opposition took off. Even though NCL was patient with each and every speaker, they truly didn't get much love from the crowd gathered. The first resident to approach the mic wasted no time:

Resident
"I consider this agreement unconstitutional. Why, because no other Belizean in here has the opportunity to do what this company intends to do."

The residents got up one by one boldly facing the experts asking their different questions, but it was not until the President of the BTIA Placencia took the mic, that the meeting kicked up to another notch. The simmer in the crowd transformed to a slow burn.

Stewart Krohn - President, BTIA Placencia
"I have a number of questions but first I would like to offer some congratulations and those congratulations go to the person or persons who dreamt up the title for this project to call it a nature park. How on earth do you dredge a million cubic yards of fill, replenish a beach and dare call it a nature park. I mean congratulations because its brilliant. I don't know if it was Pepe or Mr. Darley or maybe one of the Arguelles brothers, but I really have to congratulate you and the perversion of the English language because it's absolutely brilliant. This is a cruise port; it's not a nature park. Cockscomb is a nature park, Guanacaste is a nature park, Bladden is a nature park, Harvest Caye is certainly not a nature park and certainly not after you get through with it."

And then the two personalities on either side of this developments, who have been advancing their agendas, trying to undercut the other's progress, went head to head.

Stewart Krohn - President, BTIA Placencia
"Someone, again I don't know which person it was talked about 600 - 1,000 jobs; the EIA I believe refers to 250 direct jobs on the island. I am not talking about these jobs on aboard ship. That is ridiculous. If you need labor for ships, you get labor for ships; One thing has nothing to do with the another. Unless the people from NCL are going to say that if we turn down this proposal for a port you are going to fire all the Belizeans that you hired, is that what you are saying Mr. Darley?"

Hugh Darley, Project Director - NCL harvest Caye
"I am sorry, say that again please?"

Stewart Krohn - President, BTIA Placencia
"There is no tie between how many Belizeans you happen to hire to work on ships and anything about this cruise port."

Hugh Darley, Project Director - NCL harvest Caye
"No actually what we were hoping to do is train locals so that Belizeans can be the operators of the island. We would rather not bring Filipinos or Europeans to come and operate the island."

Stewart Krohn - President, BTIA Placencia
"How on earth are you going to bring Filipinos to operate the island? We have laws about that Mr. Darley. Belize is for the people who live here."

That back and forth went on for some time, and then, the philosophies of the opposing tourism interests started to come out:

Stewart Krohn - President, BTIA Placencia
"Let's talk about what this cruise port is really about. It's about money okay, pure and simple. This is all about money. The people at this head table and the people who are currently employed by NCL to push this project on Belize, they are here to get paid okay. You are not here because you love Belize. These Belizeans who are going to sell things on the island, are you going to give them free rent? In others words, can they come and sell their crafts for free or are you going to make them rent kiosks like you do every other place. This is business."

Hugh Darley, Project Director - NCL harvest Caye
"Well we are not going to make anybody do anything. There will be a business opportunity for them to come to the island as they do maybe in your village or wherever you are from. The commercial value of the project is definitely about money. I think that most people here are probably in the business of actually making money."

Majority of the speakers raised emotional concerns, which seemed to make the government technicians impatient. They were often curt with speakers, reminding that the EIA Consultation was about the scientific research and the environmental effects. That led to exchanges like this one:

Stewart Krohn - President, BTIA Placencia
"The original MOU for this project called for two ships and it so happens that the committee that was examining this look at the two ships and said no we can't have two ships."

Mr. Franco, Organizer
"Mr. Krohn, can you speak about the environmental impact assessment report. The MOU has no bearing on what we are here tonight. Can you stick to the technical aspect of the study."

Stewart Krohn - President, BTIA Placencia
"Mr. Franco it has every bearing."

Mr. Franco, Organizer
"It's not the forum here for that. We are here to listen to EIA from a technical perspective. Can you be very specific and precise, so that we can proceed? We have several behind you that we would like to give an opportunity as well."

Resident
"This is a multi-national company that's hard to challenge by our local tour operators. Look at Chukka and FECTAB in Belize City, that's going to happen here."

Resident
"This topic of the cruise ship comes up all the time and all my guests say they do not want to come into the area when you have mass cruise tourism. having such large number of people who are only in for a few hours going to the sites is not something they are interested in dealing with and I have a lot of guests saying they don't want to come back."

It continued like that for another hour or so, and then a resident from Independence village took the mic and pointed out all the scientific flaws in the EIA study. She poured over almost 400 pages of information, and she cited the environmental information for the project as being poor because of outdated data, inconsistent or incomplete testing results, omitted data, and inadequate risk mitigation mechanisms.

Resident
"Please don't not come and disrespect us with an EIA that I don't know if you thought we were not going to read it but we did and so I did not like it any at all because really and truly if you are going to present data to somebody and tell them that you want them to accept this, please, come to the consultation and accept this and say yes go ahead with the project, you agree, then give us the correct thing."

"The EIA starts talks about one thing in the first part and then addresses something else in the latter part, so it becomes confusing for people and for myself."

Jose Pepe Garcia - Environmental Consultant
"Maybe there was mistake, but nothing too serious. Hold on, let me explain."

And he did, but by that time, the mood in response to the scientific, technical jargon had already shifted against NCL.

Resident
"We could go back and forth with things that I read in the EIA. I understand that there are many people behind me, but just for future references, for the people who wrote the EIA, its very disrespectful that you will come and give me these kinds of things, not only me but my community and my country and the yet DOE or the NIAC, whoever will say yes and stamp the green light and go ahead with it. My goodness, if I can pick up on some of these things I would appreciate if people on the NIAC would also pick up on these things and say take this from me. I was a teacher and when my students came to me with things that I did not like because I knew they could do better, I sent them back with it - go and do it better for me. So I would appreciate next time you write a better EIA."

That set the tone, and it gave the gathering fair grounds to oppose the NCL project outright in the presence of the Department of the Environment.

Resident
"Because of the difficulty in interpreting the accuracy of the EIA and looking at the situation down here and the national tourism master plan for no big cruise ships in southern Belize, I will categorically reject at the NIAC the NCL project."

David Almendarez - Member, FECTAB
"I came in here and I saw Mr. Pepe doing the EIA report very low tone, very low key, easy to miss a couple things - how come you came here with an EIA that's not ready for the people and have so many faults."

Melvin Hulse
"Don't get confuse with the fact that you want a project to automatically assume that anybody in any country will say that they like the project and it will help us, so you are going to be mediocre and careless in how you are going to develop it. That EIA, I just briefly look through it and there is nothing specific, and you are saying that you all will discuss it later and take our concerns. Basically they are looking to step it so that the Norwegian group - they are a big reputable company and 50 million will not get the job done. They are not going to get the job done dredging at that depth - that will not happen. They need more money and I hope they are not dead raise."

Since the EIA has so many errors and flaws in it, NCL says that it intends to transcribe the entire consultation meeting, and they will redraft it with all the recommendations suggested, and whatever data that was missing, erroneous or unclear will be fixed.


After Meeting, Both Sides Claim Victory

And while that bubbles in the south, on a parallel track in the Belize District, the Barrow Administration has given the green light to Mike Feinstein's Stake Bank Project. A bill introduced yesterday in the house is named the Stake Banks Cruise Docking Facility Development Bill. The Prime Minister explained how it will work:..

Stewart Krohn - President, BTIA Placencia
"You were here just like I was; the opposition was virtually unanimous. Out of all the hundreds of people that were here only one person spoke up directly in favor of the project and he read from a script that was obviously written by somebody else. I think its clear, the people here and the people of the south realize that this project - nobody ask for it, nobody needs it - there is the new development at Stake Bank that just today was approved and endorse by the national Assembly - that is the way to go. It's clear, there is absolutely no need for this cruise port at Harvest Caye for a million different reasons that we've gone over many times before."

Daniel Ortiz
"Did you expect such a negative feedback from the public?"

Hugh Darley, Project Director - NCL harvest Caye
"Yes we did, we had a lot of information that was coming from the community leading us to believe that there are a lot of agendas and as with any agenda, you are going to have certain people that are going to express very vocally. In many realms that we worked in you got a liberal view and you have a very conservative view. Conservative people that support the project are very quiet people. People who are outspoken are generally in the opposition and that's what we heard tonight, so we need to address their concerns."

Daniel Ortiz
"I know one concern out in the public is that, you know we are doing this entire thing here but really and truly this project has already been green lighted; this entire EIA consultation was just a one other step, but it really play a role in this particular instance because it already has the green light."

Hugh Darley, Project Director - NCL harvest Caye
"We don't really see it as a green light. We still think there are a lot of hurdles."

Stewart Krohn - President, BTIA Placencia
"Technically you are right NIAC is made up of a majority of government members, there is great pressure on them to vote yes and even if through some miracle the NIAC voted against it, the cabinet/government could still over rule it, but I would simply ask those in power to pause for a minute."

There is no word at this time as to whether Government will approve the duty free status Feinstein has requested for the project. We are told that will be determined either for or against in the final agreement.

Channel 7


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#483911 - 01/24/14 11:31 AM Re: Public Consultation For Cruise Project [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

NCL Project gets the thumbs down at consultations

The Norwegian Cruise Line proposed port on Harvest Caye has been somewhat on the backburner lately, but for tourism stakeholders and residents in the south, it is certainly up front and personal. The topic resurrected with a vengeance on Wednesday night, when NCL executives stopped off in Independence for a community consultation facilitated by the Department of the Environment. On the table was the Environmental Impact Assessment, and that three hundred and nine page document sparked very heated discussion and fiery commentary. The stated purpose of the session held at the Independence High School was to elicit scientific and technical input. We’re not sure if that was achieved, but NCL and the D.O.E. did get a heaping helping of reality. Mike Rudon was in Independence and has the story.

Mike Rudon, Reporting

According to the official register, about three hundred and fifty southern residents and tourism stakeholders attended the consultation on Wednesday night. The NCL project has been a point of contention since it was announced, so it’s a pretty good bet that executives did not expect a bonding session with hand-holding and back-patting. But the process is necessary, even if a little unpleasant.

Hugh Darley

Hugh Darley, Art Director, NCL

“It’s a very complicated process and as we discussed it’s a very complicate process and its lot of technical information. Sometimes you don’t get a reaction; it’s going to be very emotional. We are trying to deal with the facts which the requirements are in the EIA. So the whole thing today is to get people from the emotional stand point to really understand. We would have loved to share eight or ten hours with the technical information but for an audience of this size that is pretty difficult. So we hope people can read the EIA as several people did which I liked that. These criticisms can come back to us and we could make corrections. But again it’s a very complicated process with a lot of a lot of science and its better if we can kind of separate the emotions form the facts .So you heard tonight a little bit about the conversation, we are hoping we could stick with the facts and don’t let the emotions comes in when it come to making good decisions.”

The tone of the night was set early on, and the EIA was put on trial. Apparently the document is chock full of errors and premises based on old data and statistics, so pleasantries were immediately discarded.

Resident

“Do not come and disrespect us with an EIA that I don’t know if you thought that we weren’t going to read it but we did. And so I did not like it any at all because really and truly if you are going to present data to somebody and tell them I want you to accept this. Please, come to the consultation and you know accept and say yes go ahead with the project we agree; then give us the correct thing.”

Hugh Darley

“I think that there were a lot of different factions within the group that were putting the information together. There is also a lack of continuity of information. You look at several series of studies; the information doesn’t necessarily build on the other. So we are looking at things, thing we found here was our data collection was not as thorough as we would normally see maybe on location. So we actually got to go back and work with the government agencies and authorities to find better databases, so that we could build those bases. It think there is probably some editing errors and probably some overview that were not covered that should have been. But because of the amount of data that we were trying to collect, we probably did it to meet a timeframe. They did rush us because we are trying to meet some criteria so that we can get the investment in place sooner rather than later.”

But while NCL is rushing to put things in place, residents and stakeholders are not happy. To them the sloppy EIA is a disastrous launching point. So for more than two hours, they made their displeasure known. But it wasn’t only the EIA…there were many questions about sewage disposal, water treatment, dredging, disposal of garbage, tendering and employment for Belizeans.

 

Melvin Hulse

Melvin Hulse, Former Area Representative, Stann Creek West

“We don’t want to be servants. Norwegian won’t survive a next hundred years if the people are the stakeholders of that industry that we all benefit. We don’t want another tourism village like Belize City. You walk out of it, you call people and that’s the end of that. You want my support, you have my support, but change the tone of how you the talk today. And I need a full report of the specific corrections in that EIA.”

 

Wil Maheia, Community Activist

“Mr. Garbutt earlier talked about depending on; will the Belizean get an opportunity to invest independent to own diplomacy that they can feel ownership of this?”

Wil Maheia

Jorge Franco, Department of Environment

“If they can come up with the capital for which the boats was invested, yes.”

Wil Maheia

“What is this multi-billion dollar Norwegian Cruise Line doing to assist poor Belizean to become owners in a company like this?”

Jorge Franco

“They will be investing fifty-million dollars in Belize.”

Wil Maheia

Jorge Franco

“And will they be getting that back in the head tax, so it doesn’t really make a lot of sense.”

Jorge Franco

“I think when you are an investor; you expect some level of return in your investment.”

Wil Maheia

“Yeah, but at the end of the day this is Belizean territory, this belong to Belizean, Belizeans need to be stakeholders. I mean not just to let them work there but also take ownership of the investment.”

Jorge Franco

“Your concern has been noted, thank you.”

Resident

“It said the solid waste that will be moved from the island, in fact it is supposed to be seventy thousand pounds per day and you were to reduce it to eighteen hundred and something pounds and that would be taken to big creek municipal dump site. There is only one dump site and even Big Creek; the people from Big Creek take it to the Independence one which is outside of Independence.”

Hugh Darley

“Well we are going to incinerate the waste on the side at…”

Resident

“That’s what I am saying the EIA talks about one things in the first part and then addresses something else in the latter part. So it becomes confusing for some people, even for myself.”

Pepe Garcia, Consultant

“Maybe there was a mistake nothing too serious (laughter).”

MIike Heusner

Stewart Krohn

“How on earth do you dredge a million cubic yards of fill, replenish a beach and dear call it a nature park. I need to congratulate you because it is hideous, I don’t know if it was Cecil, if it was Mr. Darley, maybe the Arguelles brothers, but I really need to congratulate you and the perversion of the English language because it is absolutely brilliant, this is a cruise port. It’s not a nature park. Cockscomb is a nature park, Guanacaste is a nature park, Bladden is a nature park, Harvest Caye is certainly not a nature park, and certainly not after you get through with it. Question you’ve been talking about technical issues and I certainly have many, and I am sure other people will give them up. But let’s talk about this cruise port is really about. It’s about money okay, plain and simple, this is all about money.”

Mike Heusner

“Because of the difficulty in interpreting the EIA and looking at the situation down here, and the national tourism master plan for no big cruise ships in southern Belize, I will categorically reject the NCL Project.”

Herbert Haylock

Herbert Haylock, President, B.T.I.A.

“If you looked at his particular meeting, and if you were in attendance in regards to the questions that people were asking and the details that the people were seeking; you didn’t get that from this particular session. There were obvious open areas in regards to the EIA and the responses we were getting in response to the questions that were being asked. So I don’t necessarily feel that the general public that was in attendance at this left comfortably and satisfied that their questions were answered. I think that more questions were asked than were answered at this session.”

Despite all that, NCL is determined to press on, and says the negativity is mainly because people haven’t gotten a clear understanding of the benefits of the cruise tourism industry.

Hugh Darley

“No company wants to come to a community where they are not wanted, my job is really to find what notches the requirements and the expectation of the community. I think you heard a lot tonight was people still don’t have a clear understanding of how these things works. How the tourism industry has positive impacts. Some of the socio-economic problems have not been answered.”

Herbert Haylock

“You obviously saw the mood tonight and you obviously saw the questions that were being asked. And it think people are saying that listen; hold up, we need to look at this a little closer and we need to ask more specifics that what is being presented to us. Again as an organization form the BTIA front, we have gone on the record in regards from a NIAC perspective asking for a public hearing in this matter, as opposed to simply a public consultation. There is a lot things that need to be looked at in regards to this development, and again it’s evident from the questions being asked tonight.”

Of about fifty persons who stood on Tuesday night to ask questions, express concerns or make comments, only about three expressed support for the project, one of them tentatively. Mike Rudon for News Five.

NCL is ready to get started as soon as possible, and is even prepared to start doing immediate work on the island under the terms of the EIA. But Darley says that they have decided to wait until a full green light is issued. 

Channel 5


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#483997 - 01/25/14 10:37 AM Re: Public Consultation For Cruise Project [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

“A LOT OF PROBLEMS” WITH NORWEGIAN’S HARVEST CAYE EIA

EIA public consultation held Wednesday night in Independence

The US$100 million Stake Bank Cruise Docking Facility, which has received environmental clearance, is expected to proceed imminently after Parliament yesterday received a proposal for a 20-year development concession in the form of the Stake Bank Cruise Docking Facility Development Bill, 2014.

Meanwhile, the US$50 million Harvest Caye destination island proposed by Norwegian Cruise Line for southern Belize is still under the lens, with the public consultation for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) held Wednesday night in Independence.

“The EIA was just disastrous…” said a businessman, who supports the project conceptually.

The concerned citizen told us that while the majority of the people who attended the hearing want to see something happening in the south, they want to make sure it is within the framework of a good EIA and is a good project, beneficial to Belizeans. People are skeptical and think everything is a conspiracy, so it is important that the concerns are properly addressed, he indicated.

Amandala is informed that between 200 and 300 people attended that hearing, and while most people sat as observers, those who were vocal had many questions, including questions over how the cruise line would dispose of the silt derived from the dredging it expects to carry out this year as a part of the development.

Some attendees were stunned that one of the proposed means of disposal is pumping the silt into the sea – particularly as this method could put Belize’s marine ecosystem, the fisheries resources and our world-famous barrier reef, at risk.

An official source told our newspaper that the Department of the Environment will continue to accept public feedback on the project for another week or so, after which the National Environmental Appraisal Committee is expected to meet. However, early indications to our newspaper are that Norwegian will be asked to make some substantial adjustments to its EIA, in order to address the environmental concerns that have been expressed.

Amandala understands that both Rodwell Ferguson, the People United Party’s area representative for Stann Creek West, and his predecessor, Melvin Hulse, former Stann Creek West area rep for the United Democratic Party, were there and both supported the Harvest Caye project – provided that the social benefits promised would be realized.

Some are concerned about whether the project will give Belizeans “donkey work” rather than meaningful entrepreneurial opportunities.

Reports to our newspaper are that Norwegian, in line with a promise made last year, is moving to hire 250 Belizeans, who they hope to begin to put to work on February 1, 2014, and those persons would be given first priority to work at the Belize project, after they have received two years of experience on Norwegian ships.

One attendee we spoke with said that there are “a lot of problems with the EIA…” which was hundreds of pages long and very technical.

However, as we had previously reported, the EIA in question is merely an adaptation of an old EIA that had been done for a tourism development which had been planned for the same location. The Norwegian EIA reviewed last night even lists George Murray, who has been dead for 5 years, as the chairman of Independence Village.

At the hearing, questions were raised over how the project would source water for use at the facility, and a number of suggestions were laid out, including the drilling of wells for water, capturing rain water, a desalination plant and sourcing water from the Independence area.

The concern with the last proposal is the risk of overuse of the aquifer, which supplies Placencia, Big Creek and Independence, and that no research has been done to verify how large the water source is, and whether further exploitation could lead to salt water penetration into the water source.

There was also concern raised over an extensive floating dock, proposed as a part of the project, and concerns that it would be more than three times the 300 feet customarily allowed for such developments.

While there were structural concerns expressed, there were also pressing economic matters raised: Locals don’t want Norwegian to monopolize the tendering process through which cruise tourists are shuttled from ship to shore. One local business questioned whether locals would be allowed to shuttle tourists to the mainland, but was told that Norwegian would have special shallow draft tenders which they will import to shuttle people, and if locals are willing to buy those tenders, Norwegian would consider that.

Locals also questioned whether passengers using that port would be able to book tours with independent tour operators, and the concern is that Norwegian will control this dimension of the project as well.

Steward Krohn, a hotelier in the area and a vocal member of the Placencia arm of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), is adamant that “the project itself is just a bad project.” Krohn said that he would be shocked if NEAC would approve the EIA in its present form.

He pointed to concerns raised by Jolie Pollard, BTIA-Placencia executive director, over the sharing of the head tax – US$4 of the US$7 going back to the cruise line – a formula which would evidently mean that Norwegian would recoup its entire investment within 20 years – so the question is, what would they be giving to Belize when Belize would be giving them back all they invest via the head tax split?

It’s like if a slave master gives you a bill for room and board, because he put you up in a shack, Krohn said.

He expressed the view that there needs to be a more thorough EIA, which would provide better data and a more definite statement of what their plans are, and once that revision happens, the EIA should again be presented at a new public hearing.

Krohn said that it appears that Government is “in way too big a hurry…” to push the project ahead.

In related news, Amandala has received reliable information that the project by Blue Water International to farm red drum fish off the coast of Belize City, which we reported on about a week ago, has been approved and an Environmental Compliance Plan is being prepared.

Amandala


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#484005 - 01/25/14 11:17 AM Re: Public Consultation For Cruise Project [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

VIDEO: Inside the NCL consultations


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#484437 - 01/29/14 09:07 AM Re: Public Consultation For Cruise Project [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Will NCL EIA Have to Go Back To The Drawing Board?

The National Environmental Appraisal Committee was supposed to meet tomorrow to discuss the NCL Project for Harvest Caye, but there are reliable reports reaching 7News tonight that it this meeting has been postponed until a later date.

That's because the public concerns raised at the EIA public consultation meeting on last week Wednesday in Independence have highlighted many environmental concerns that the developer has not properly dealt with in their EIA.

Yesterday, an organization called Peninsula Citizens for Sustainable Development sent out a release criticizing the EIA for its inadequate details on the project's daily water usage, the effects of dredging needed, the destruction which will take place on Harvest Caye, the effects of the operation of the cruise ships, and its socio-economic impacts.

The organization is asking for the entire EIA to be redone before it is reviewed by the NEAC. Last week, 7News showed you how NCL's Project Director, Hugh Darley, promised that make all the necessary corrections exposed in the public consultation. Today, we contacted Jose Pepe Garcia, one their environmental experts who presented at last Wednesday's public meeting. He told us that the experts are working on those corrections.

But, it's a major embarrassment for both the developer and the government, and the smart money says the entire process will likely have to be rebooted.

Channel 7


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