By Gemma Handy
Campaigners fighting Barbuda’s Peace, Love and Happiness (PLH) project have welcomed the temporary extension of an injunction barring developers from resuming part of their work this week.
But the company says the vast majority of the site under development falls outside the purlieus of the edict, effectively enabling them to continue.
An interim injunction halting activity at Palmetto Point – which will eventually be home to hundreds of luxury homes and a golf course – was granted by the High Court on October 1. The legal action was initiated by the Barbuda Council in July on environmental grounds.
Developers had hoped to be able to restart this week when the court reconvened.
Opponents declared a minor victory when the order was extended on Tuesday pending an official judgement, which Barbuda’s MP Trevor Walker said is expected next week.
“The mere fact the judge extended it seems like a positive sign,” Walker told Observer.
However, a PLH spokesman said the MP’s assessment had little foundation.
“The judge revised the injunction so it is only applicable to land that the Barbuda Council is a lessor to. And 80 percent of what we are doing right now does not sit on land that the council is a party to,” he said.
“There are six separate lessors for the Palmetto Point peninsula. That means we are able to continue work on most of the site,” he added.
And while PLH has not yet reached the stage of constructing homes, it is for now able to continue earth works, landscaping and environmental remediation, the spokesman added.
The development has been steeped in controversy from the outset. While some claim it will bring a vital economic shot in the arm to Barbuda, others decry its environmental impact on the area, protected under a global treaty.
The development infringes on wetlands deemed to be of international importance under the RAMSAR Convention. Opponents also say it places endemic and critically endangered wildlife at risk, as well as encroaching on one of the world’s largest nesting sites for the magnificent frigatebird, the national bird.
In August, Chief Environmental Officer Diann Black-Layne wrote to the Development Control Authority (DCA) recommending a stop order be issued on the multi-million dollar project.
In a subsequent letter dated August 31, the DCA gave developers five business days to take steps to correct a string of violations, including damaging age-old sand dunes which help buffer the island against storm surges.