Controversy continues over ABR

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 17, No. 14            April 5, 2007

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The Ambergris Caye Belize Resort Development (ABR) has undoubtedly been the center of much controversy. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) submitted by the developers was placed under much scrutiny at the public consultation held on March 22nd. The plans have been submitted to the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC) who is the committee responsible to give the Castillo family the “go ahead.”

    In an interview with NEAC representative, Joe Villafranco, The San Pedro Sun found out that the plans are still under revision. However, ABR has been told that some of its plans will not be able to go through. “We did not believe in approving any of their over water cabañas, and instead of three piers, we approved one which will be a service dock, among other changes,” he explained. Another aspect of the ABR plan which will have to be revised is both their swimming areas. Instead of dredging, ABR plans to move sand from the sand dunes to create a sandy bottom. “This is something that has never been done, so what we requested is a test of the process first, no go ahead on that either,” Villafranco stated.

    NEAC will make a decision on the EIA and will either state that: 1.) the EIA is inadequate and requires further investigation 2.) further public consultations are necessary 3.) the development may not proceed 4.) the development may proceed subject to specific conditions.

    No deadline was set for the submission of ABR’s plan revisions. “It is all up to the developers when they want to re-submit their new plans,” Villafranco ended.

    In an interview with Billy Leslie, President of the San Pedro Tour Guide Association a letter will be submitted to the Departments of Environment, Fisheries and Land, as well as to NEAC stating the Association’s position. According to Leslie, the Association strongly believes that a development of this magnitude will be detrimental to what Bacalar Chico is: a reserve and a national park, as well as a World Heritage Site.

    Whether there will be another ABR public consultation or not remains to be seen. However, the general public can request one by emailing the Department of Environment at envirodept@btl.net.



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