Court halts construction of airport in Barbuda

High Court judge, Justice Rosalyn E. Wilkinson, has instructed that all construction taking place on the international airport in Barbuda be stopped effective immediately.

Lead counsellor for the claimants, Leslie Thomas QC, expressed his satisfaction with the decision of the court. 

“The judge says that there is an arguable case in the papers, granted leave to move for judicial review and also granted an interim injunction. Basically, no work is to continue on the airport because this is a serious issue until the full hearing of this application,” Thomas explained.

He also highlighted that the challenge was not against the construction of the airport, but whether or not the government had complied with the Physical Planning Act. He said that his team had penned several letters to the relevant authorities about the environmental impact assessment that the government was required to carry out before construction commenced, but was yet to get a reply.

He said it was because of the silence and failure of the government to acknowledge their correspondence that the claimants, John Mussington and Jacklyn Frank, applied for judicial review, saying that the government was in breach of the Planning Act.

The claimants filed the case as representatives of Barbudans who are affected by and opposed to the “massive destruction” of forests, wildlife and ecosystems allegedly associated with the construction of the airport. 

Thomas said that the respondents in this case are the Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority, the Development Control Authority (DCA) and the office of the Attorney General. Lawyers representing the respondents made an application for adjournment of the proceedings to a later date. However, because the respondents had been served with papers since July 9, and were yet to present any evidence in their own defense, the judge did not grant the application for adjournment and proceeded to hear the claimant’s application for judicial review.

(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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