Lawsuit to argue inappropriate government actions, environmental damage
By Dave Kaiser & Monique Washington
The Court of Appeal weighed in this week to permit Anne Bass to continue to argue in court to halt construction of the HTRIP Candy Resort Villa Development due to inappropriate government actions and that the project will cause major environmental damage. This project is currently being built on Long Haul Bay in the Parish of St. James, Nevis.
The date for the hearing before the Court of Appeal has not been set.
The lawsuit claims that the approval process did not follow Nevis’ physical planning laws or comply with national and international environmental laws – including the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and the Cartagena Convention – and it seriously threatens sensitive environmental areas.
The case hinges on five key factors:
- Did government departments act without jurisdiction when they decided in April 2015 to grant permission to Caribbean Development Consultant Ltd. to construct Candy Resort Villa Development without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the materially revised plans, as required by law and their decision should be made null because of their failure to examine and take into account the environmental impact assessment. The lawsuit alleges that the Candy Development was approved without a complete and proper EIA.
- Has the Candy Resort Development adversely impacted and will it continue to adversely impact the coral reefs, marine ecosystem?
- Has the development adversely impacted and will it continue to threaten endangered sea turtles that nest in the area?
- Will the development have detrimental effects on Nevis’s economic development, agriculture and preservation of the island’s natural resources?
- Bass brought a lawsuit against the Nevis Island Administration saying they acted inappropriately in April 2015 when they granted permission to Caribbean Development Consultants Ltd. to construct the Candy Resort Villa Development without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
Under Nevis’ Physical Planning laws, the developer was required to submit, and the Planning Department to consider, an Environmental Impact Assessment (“EIA”) prior to issuing any approvals. The Planning Department also specifically required CDCL to submit an EIA for this project.
Bass’s attorneys maintained that the Government departments acted without jurisdiction when they decided in April 22, 2015 to deny Mrs. Bass’s application and grant permission to Caribbean Development Consultant Ltd. to construct Candy Resort Villa Development without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the materially revised plans, as required by law and their decision should be made null because of their failure to examine and take into account the environmental impact assessment. The lawsuit alleges that the Candy Development was approved without a complete and proper EIA.
Initial case lost
Bass lost her case in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) to halt the project when the court denied Bass’s application to have the decisions of Director of Physical Planning and the Development Advisory Committee, who granted permission to the Caribbean Development Consultant Ltd. to construct HTRIP Candy Resort Villa Development which will consist of 17 buildings, with 51 units, on 4.4 acres of coastal land and is designed to include a guard house, restaurant, and two parking lots, which require clearing virtually the entire site of all vegetation.
In Her Ladyship Justice Lorraine Williams’ decision the court noted that the Bass judicial review application is statute-barred under the act and the applicant’s challenge is without merit.
“The respondents acted within their jurisdiction and authority and they can rely on the protection of the six-month limitation for instituting proceedings under the Public Authorities Protection Act,” Justice Williams said.
Court of Appeal Decision
The Court of Appeal has allowed Bass’s attorneys to appeal the High Court’s refusal to let her challenge the Planning Department’s approval of the Candy Resort Villa Development.
In a press release issued earlier this week “The Court of Appeal granted leave to appeal the Nevis Department of Physical Planning’s approval of the controversial Candy Resort Development.”
Bass claims that project already “has adversely impacted and will continue to adversely impact, the coral reefs, the marine ecosystem, and threatened and endangered sea turtles that nest in the area.”
According to a release published by Bass’s U.S. consul, “Bass has a special interest in Nevis’s economic development, agriculture and the perseveration of the islands natural resource. Her initiatives include a coral reef restoration project, aims at restoring two primary coral reefs–one of which is located just if the coast of the Candy Development.”
It states, “The NIA and the Department of Physical Planning approved this Coral Reef Restoration project two months prior to approving the Candy Development.”
The release also indicates Bass hired Dr. Anne Michelle Morrison, a Harvard-trained ecologist, toxicologist and aquatic biologist to inspect the development site and the coral reef surrounding Candy Resort. According to Morrison’s findings, the villa project “threatens the viability of the coral restoration project due to the adverse environmental impacts, particularly erosion, inadequate treatment of sewage and surface drainage.”
Experts Weigh In
Experts have claimed that the sewage treatment plan is woefully inadequate, there is no drainage plan for this large project, and no environmental impact assessment of the marine environment was ever done. The Nevis Historical and Conservation Society raised many of these concerns in a letter to the Department of Physical Planning on August 20, 2014, which it says were not adequately addressed. Mrs. Bass stated that she intends to pursue her legal remedies to the full extent allowed under the law.
Since 2007, Mrs. Bass has been involved in multiple charitable projects on Nevis related to economic development, agriculture, and preservation of the island’s natural resources. These initiatives include a Coral Reef Restoration project, aimed at restoring two primary coral reefs—one of which is located just off the coast of the Candy Development.
Planning Department Response
The Observer contacted the Planning Department on Thursday to ascertain whether or not Bass’ claims about the impact of the coast not being completed in the EIA are correct. The Planning Department responded indicating that the document will be available on Monday at the Library. When questioned why it could not be seen at that time, the Observer was told the original documents are with the lawyers and will be amended and ready on Monday. On Tuesday, The Observer also visited the office of Minister In-charge of Planning, Hon. Alexis Jeffers, but was told he was off-island.