Activist considers legal action to protect the environment

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By Shermain Bique-Charles

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Raul Samuel, the environmental activist who started the campaign to save Seaforth Beach and the surrounding mangroves from potentially-harmful development, is gearing up to take legal action to prevent threats of a similar nature in the future.

The area under immediate threat is part of more than five hundred acres between Jennings and Five Islands, designated for the country’s second special economic zone.

There are concerns that the plans for the development – which include the construction of hotels and private villas – will inevitably result in the destruction of the country’s largest, and arguably, its most valuable wetlands.

Samuel has been campaigning for several months to get those plans halted, and he told Observer that the next move is to seek intervention through the Court.

“I have had some preliminary conversations with legal counsel. We are looking at what can be done, and the best course of action. I also invited other concerned groups and individuals to come together and join the fight as one,” he told Observer.

Discussions have also been held on who should bring the matter to Court, and who are the persons likely to succeed and find the best attorneys for the matter.

“We are also looking at some precedence from around the region – what has worked, and what kind of rulings have been obtained prior to now,” Samuel said.

Samuel shared that based on those initial discussions with legal professionals, he is confident that their efforts to prevent environmentally-harmful development projects will be successful.

“I’m optimistic that we can make inroads. I believe we have laws on the books which are strong enough to protect the environment, but they are not being adhered to. I think proper action brought by competent legal counsel will have the desired effect,” he added.

In a bit of good news for the campaign, the project appears to have hit a hurdle with evidence of material being removed and the clearing of land suspended.

Samuel noted that the government’s silence on this, especially considering its prior support, is reason to be suspicious.

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