No application submitted for South Beach

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 19, No. 2            January 15, 2009

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The area slated to become South Beach currently is home to spawning grounds for much marine life.

The center of much controversy, South Beach Belize was approved by the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC) on December 18th, 2008. However, as stated in an article dated Volume 18 Number 50 of The San Pedro Sun, South Beach Belize has yet to submit and obtain clearances from other essential governmental agencies before proceeding with their construction plans.

    What governmental agencies would South Beach be required to get clearances from? For starters, in order to build, mangroves would have to be cleared. Readers might remember that government placed a moratorium on mangrove clearances months ago. To be exact, a press release dated February 15th, 2008 from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment stated that “with immediate effect mangroves are placed under a moratorium thus, all mangrove alteration permits are hereby suspended.” The moratorium was in effect for an initial time of nine months. Although the moratorium date has expired, Wilber Sabido from the Department of Forestry (Forestry is the department responsible for authorizing mangrove clearances) stated that applications are being entertained but have not been signed off yet. Those applications that went through the environmental clearances and who received a green light from NEAC prior to the moratorium are just being reviewed. For those who submitted their applications after, the wait will be even longer. South Beach Belize has not submitted theirs as of press time. Once South Beach’s application reaches Forestry’s desk, their case will be reviewed extensively before being allowed to cut any mangroves. However, on May 21st, 2008 South Beach received an enforcement notice asking them to “cease and desist” from clearing mangroves in the area. South Beach had begun clearing mangroves prior to receiving a permit and for this they were fined. This action will haunt South Beach since according to Sabido, the clearing of the mangroves in the first instance without any permit will weigh heavily on whether it will receive an approval.

    The second permit that South Beach will require is a dredging permit. According to an official in the Ministry of Geology and Mines, the department responsible for authorizing dredging permits, South Beach has yet to submit an application. Once the application reaches Geology’s desk, it will also go through a review process which will determine whether it will be approved. Approval depends on the location and amount of dredging material required by the developer.

    Thirdly, before beginning any construction, South Beach has to submit plans to the Ambergris Caye Local Building Authority (ACLBA). According to Dalia Alamilla, secretary, South Beach has not submitted any plans for approval. Once those plans cross ACLBA’s desk, they will be reviewed extensively before any building is approved. In a previous interview with Chairman of ACLBA Frank Panton, he explained that when reviewing applications the committee would ensure that developments not only follow the guidelines in place but that they do so in an environmentally friendly manner.

    In an interview with Investor/Developer Jeff Pierce, he stated that they will apply to the various agencies and will comply with all the recommendations submitted to them by NEAC. Exactly when these applications are to be submitted is unknown at this press time.
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