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#493789 - 07/24/14 05:45 AM Re: Puerto Azul Development [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Press Release – Oceana Belize – July 22, 2014

Belize’s largest conservation and tourism organizations, as well as members of the public, have joined forces in opposition to a proposed seven star mega-resort on Belize’s most remote coral reefs. The project, named Puerto Azul, would transform two private islands on the northern side of the Lighthouse Reef atoll. The brainchild of Italian promoter Domenico Giannini, Puerto Azul was launched during the 2014 Cannes Film Festival at a lavish celebrity-studded party. Belizean ministers of government were also flown in for the occasion.

Opposition to the project is based on its massive scale in an undeveloped area that is over 50 miles from the nearest mainland supply depot. Lighthouse Reef, part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, is one of only four atolls in the Caribbean and is home to the world renowned Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye Natural Monuments; both are protected areas and World Heritage Sites. The developers want to build what they describe as a “citadel of luxury” inclusive of underwater suites, a golf course, amusement park, submarine base, hospital, super-yacht marina and Formula 1 race track, all serviced by a two mile long international airport to be dredged from the sands and productive sea grass beds of the Lighthouse Reef atoll. The resort’s proposed one thousand guests would be served by a small city of two thousand employees.


The Government of Belize has yet to formally approve the project and the developers have not closed on the property but investors are moving forward with the studies required for environmental clearance. Selective clearing is also happening on the cayes. That reality has prompted a rapidly growing number of organizations and individuals familiar with Belize’s environment to take the position that while they support overnight and high-end luxury tourism, they are unable to support a tourism venture whose infrastructure will irreversibly alter the same environment that is meant to attract visitors. There are more appropriate sites for expansive projects that require large-scale alterations to the environment that yield lower impacts and provide more benefits to Belize’s economy.

“In 30 years of sustained growth Belize’s tourism industry has relied on one constant factor: the careful stewardship of our incredible natural resource base,” says president of the Belize Tourism Industry Association, Herbert Haylock. “To transplant a Disneyesque city into the middle of one of Belize’s most beautiful marine habitats is an act of environmental arrogance that runs counter to all that has made Belize an authentically unique and successful destination.”

Executive Director of the Belize Audubon Society Amanda Acosta agrees. “As co-managers of these two destinations, we are all too aware that these resources are already on UNESCO’s list of in-danger sites. Scale is the issue. If Puerto Azul were to happen it would be the nail in the coffin of Belize’s World Heritage status.”


WWF’s country representative Nadia Bood adds, “Any vision for development in this remarkable area must protect national interests over the long-term.”

Belize’s marine resources contribute to the national economy well beyond tourism. According to Dr. Melanie McField, Director of the Healthy Reefs Initiative, a 2008 World Resources Institute economic evaluation found that Belize’s reef and mangroves provide about US$500million dollars every year in goods and services to Belize. “Direct ongoing benefits to the people and country of Belize are threatened by this ill-conceived, unsuitable and completely inappropriate proposed development that will benefit few Belizeans and expatriate the nation’s natural and actual wealth.”

Other scientists, including Dr. Rachel Graham, executive director of MarAlliance, notes, “Puerto Azul will irreversibly impact a fragile biodiversity hotspot and coral reef site of local and global importance. The proposed development would further displace the atoll’s traditional fishers and rapidly extirpate the atoll’s marine resources – both the basis of a sustainable tourism and a heritage benefiting all Belizeans.”

And that, says Janelle Chanona, Oceana’s Vice President in Belize, is why Belizeans are vigilant. “There are strong economic and cultural connections between Belizeans and Belize’s marine resources. This location in particular has a very special place in the heart of all Belizeans. It is a sacred place. You don’t scar sacred places. Developments must not risk our precious environment or compromise the livelihoods.

San Pedro Sun


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#493818 - 07/24/14 01:47 PM Re: Puerto Azul Development [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Your minister has never seen a deal he didn't like or approve. Makes one recall the good old days of Said and Ralph ripping us off with relish
_________________________
Belize based travel specialist
www.belize-trips.com
info@belize-trips.com

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#494047 - 07/31/14 06:03 AM Re: Puerto Azul Development [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

PM Says Puerto Azul Still Nebulous

And, of course, it wouldn't be a press conference without some mention of the Puerto Azul project. Indeed, the volume of press releases on the project has far exceeded the body of actual information on the development. And that's because the information that's been released on the project so far shows that it proposes a mega luxury development on the Lighthouse Reef Atoll. So, they say they have to mount massive and sustained resistance to make sure the project does not get off the ground.

But, again today, the Prime Minister was like, what project? Here's how he put it

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize

"Well my difficulty is, I don't quite know what the project is. These people came with some ideas, with a concept they were told what they needed to do to flesh out that concept, and some of the things from the start would be a no go, and as far as I am aware that process is not yet completed; So I am supportive of the notion that the watchdog groups ought to be if not previous, pre-emptive in terms of discharging their role. But I don't quite understand how they can speak with any degree of accuracy about what is wrong, or what needs to be done, when no scope in terms this project has been agreed by government. I know people were every upset about the notion of some airstrip on the reef. Well that was never ever on. As I say I want to be careful because the environmental community needs to do what it is doing. I just ask that they check with the chair of the cabinet investment sub-committee just to be sure they are not running off half-cocked, when indeed we are not yet at a point where there is anything to complain about."

Channel 7


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#494291 - 08/05/14 05:55 PM Re: Puerto Azul Development [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

RESORT TO HOST EMMY-STYLE EVENTS ON BELIZE CAYE?

NEAC discussing terms of Puerto Azul EIA

An alliance of foreign and local NGOs had come public in their opposition to the controversial Puerto Azul project, which proposed the construction of the mega resort just 8 miles from the Great Blue Hole. They contend that both the scale and the location of the project should be reconsidered; and indications to our newspaper today are that the original project design is being scaled down. Whereas we were unable to get details, Amandala has been informed by an official source that the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC) will continue internal consultations this week as it continues its review of the proposed terms of reference for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and the final document should be available for the next regularly scheduled meeting of NEAC, due to be held on the last Wednesday of the month.

We were told that the finalized terms of reference would also be submitted to the Cabinet Subcommittee on Investments, chaired by Minister Godwin Hulse, who indicated to us today that Puerto Azul is months away from being considered for Cabinet sanction.

Hulse told us that Puerto Azul executives were in the country with representatives from two US companies – one of which has been commissioned to undertake an environmental study, while the other has been commissioned to undertake an investment study.

“The idea is to begin to look at the island to see if they can proceed with the project,” said Hulse.

He told us that it may be another 4 to 6 months before these studies are concluded and presented to the Government.

Hulse said that it is his understanding that the intent of Puerto Azul is to construct an events facility which could host events like the Emmy Awards hosted in Hollywood. He said that there will be no airport constructed on the reef, but the current proposal is for an existing airport on the island to be expanded. (We note that this is not the concept detailed in the development proposal we saw back in 2013, which showed the airport on the Lighthouse Reef Atoll at another location.)


Last Wednesday, when we asked Prime Minister Dean Barrow for his position on the project, in light of calls from the NGO community for a downscaled project at another location, Barrow said: “I don’t quite know what the project is…”

He said that the investors had come to the country and they were told what they needed to do to flesh out their concept.

He said that he did not know how the NGOs could speak with any degree of accuracy, with the proposed project having not been clearly defined.

Barrow said that the NGO group should “check with the chair of the cabinet investment sub-committee just to be sure they are not running off half-cocked.”

When we last spoke with the reps of the NGO alliance, they indicated to us that they had written Minister Hulse, but had gotten no reply, apart from what he had said to the media.

Today, we asked Minister Hulse whether he had received that letter, and he confirmed that he did, but told us that he has “a policy of not responding when I have nothing to say.”

Again, Hulse noted that Government has “a clear program for investments” which Cabinet has outlined. He said that BELTRAIDE will be informed of the results of the Puerto Azul investment study, and that information will also be provided to the Cabinet Subcommittee which he chairs.

If the Subcommittee believes that the proposal is adequate, it would next table it at Cabinet, which would next sign off on a Memorandum of Understanding before they begin to concretize the project. If there are to be any tax waivers, those would also go to Parliament, Hulse said, pointing to “a process that is well established.”

Barrow said last Wednesday that, “…we are not yet at a point where there is anything to complain about,” although he did indicate that he is “supportive of the notion that the watchdog groups ought to be … pre-emptive in terms of discharging their role…”

Roberto Pott, Coordinator of Healthy Reef Initiative in Belize, one of the NGOs in the alliance, told our newspaper that they want to ensure that the proper processes are in place, and they want to sound the alarm now, about what is at stake; what the project, if it materializes, would jeopardize. He said that such a project would never work for Belize in its entirety, and a downscaled version at some other location should be considered.

Janelle Chanona, vice president of Oceana in Belize, said that Belizeans should start asking more questions about the project, which could have far-reaching impacts. She said that while the project could bring jobs, so could putting a Peppers Pizza on top of Xunantunich.

Last year, our newspaper got wind of the company’s development proposal for an exclusive resort, hotel, gulf, villas and spa on Northern Two Cayes, dated April 2013. That proposal included an underwater laboratory as well.

“The project, named Puerto Azul, would transform two private islands on the northern side of the Lighthouse Reef atoll. The brainchild of Italian promoter Domenico Giannini, Puerto Azul was launched during the 2014 Cannes Film Festival at a lavish celebrity-studded party. Belizean ministers of government were also flown in for the occasion,” the alliance of NGOs noted.

Amandala


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#494455 - 08/11/14 04:03 AM Re: Puerto Azul Development [Re: Marty]
seashell Offline
"Janelle Chanona, vice president of Oceana in Belize, said that Belizeans should start asking more questions about the project, which could have far-reaching impacts. She said that while the project could bring jobs, so could putting a Peppers Pizza on top of Xunantunich"

Profound AND profoundly funny!!

May we hope this all turns out to be a tempest in a teapot.
_________________________
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?


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#494457 - 08/11/14 04:13 AM Re: Puerto Azul Development [Re: Marty]
reefenit Offline
Barrow said last Wednesday that, “…we are not yet at a point where there is anything to complain about,” although he did indicate that he is “supportive of the notion that the watchdog groups ought to be … pre-emptive in terms of discharging their role…”

Get this off the table as soon as possible! And sign this please.........

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As concerned global citizens we urge you to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Monument, and all its protections from extractive activities, to the full 200-nautical-mile limit of US jurisdiction. By creating the world's largest ocean sanctuary, you will not only preserve one of the richest collections of marine life on Earth, but also contribute to protecting our oceans for generations to come.

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If we send Obama a tidal wave of global public support now, we will empower him to counter opposition and help save our oceans for generations to come. Sign the petition and tell everyone -- let's deliver one million voices before the official consultation closes in days.
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