By Elesha George
The Barbuda Council has decided to appeal the decision of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) which allowed the Peace Love and Happiness developer to resume work at the golf course site in Palmetto Point, Barbuda.
“We see this as being something totally wrong, and it is not something that we will accept. It’s really something we will appeal” said Barbuda MP Trevor Walker, who refused to accept the court’s decision to lift the injunction without conditions to prevent further environmental degradation at the site pending the [resolution of the] substantive matter.”
On January 20th Justice Marissa Robertson ordered the lifting of an interim injunction that prevented PLH from carrying out construction work at its golf site where the Department of Environment (DoE) said a number of environmental breaches had occurred in July of 2020.
While Walker said the Council accepted the judgment, he said members did not agree with it on several grounds.
“We accept the decision of the court, but we disagree vehemently with the decision. We think that the judge erred big time with coming up with this decision for several reasons,” he remarked, explaining that “International obligations have been breached. This is not a simple matter so, at the end of the day, we have a right.”
Walker called the judge’s decision “flawed,” citing further that it was wrong for the judge to make a decision that prevents the Council and its agents from gaining access to several of PLH’s properties.
“The Barbuda Council is the one party to this lease, and if she’s gonna say that we have no right to enter the premises, even for inspection, that cannot be right . . . You cannot lease or rent something to somebody and you don’t have a right of inspection,” Walker explained.
The Barbuda Local Government Act gives the Barbuda Council power to access properties for rates and taxes once there is a notice seven days prior to any assessments. In addition, Walker said there is a provision in the lease that give the Council authority to inspect the property.
Additionally, the Chief Environment Officer’s written concern and request for a stop order for works being carried out at Palmetto Point is “undisputable,” he said, arguing that “The DCA is not the expert in this. The DoE as the environmentalists are the experts, and so we feel that the judge erred where that is concerned.”
Furthermore, Walker surmised that PLH breached the international treaty that protects the area as a RAMSAR-designated site.
Walker concluded that the local government has not ruled out taking the matter further to the Privy Council.
Following the court’s decision, PLH Project President, Justin Wilshaw told Observer “With the dismissal of the Barbuda Council’s temporary injunction, we respect the judgment made and the regulatory authority process that has been carried out to date. PLH will continue to welcome monthly visits from the regulatory bodies, to ensure full visibility and compliance with environmental standards agreed to.”