The letter sent by Waterloo’s CEO, Stewart Howard to CEO, Dr Kenrick Williams of the Ministry of Sustainable Development is concerning two issues; the Bulk Handling Facility and the Cruise Ship Terminal at the Port of Belize. In the letter, Howard says they are concerned deeply with the matter in which the regulatory approval process has been handled. We understand that the process has ended and that NEAC has rejected the project. NEAC’s decision is expected to be communicated to the Department of Environment which would then send an official notice to inform Waterloo. We asked Minister of Sustainable Development, Orlando Habet to comment on the outcome.
Reporter: So the project can you confirm whether the expansion project was rejected by NEAC ?
Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development: “I can’t say because I haven’t gotten any details. I really wouldn’t want to comment on it because it’s not official as yet but the Department of Environment has been instructed by NEAC to write Waterloo the letter and their report on the decision and what details the report will take as to why possibly the project was approved or denied. So we have discussed in Cabinet that perhaps it is now time to look at the process itself. So whilst the process might call for the company, the investor, to do an EIA and depending on the size of the project that EIA process and report and study might be in the millions of dollars. So when you do that now the person or company or the project might feel like guess what we have enough money invested that they have expectations for approval so perhaps the process can be relooked at.”
In the letter, Howard tells CEO Williams that Waterloo has produced over 1,500 pages of EIA and addenda while meticulously following the standards and processes set out by the DOE; acceding to every request in the most expedient manner possible. Howard says the process has been unfair and bombarded with obstructions. He went further by accusing the DOE of the inability to provide timely communication. Minister Habet responded simply by saying that Waterloo has failed to provide all the information requested.
Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development: “I don’t know to what extent they claim that they have given all the information in a timely manner. I know the process has been extended for quite some time because this had started off long before we came into office. Recall that the original project was to dump ten million cubic meters of seabed material near Turneffe close to the reef and when the NEAC met considering the environmental impact on the reef knowing that it’s a UNESCO site, how it will affect our tourism and also because of the strong opposition during the consultation I guess that they were asked that listen we can’t go along with this area where you want to dump the material perhaps you can now submit how you will dispose of this material on a different site and I think what they did was they resubmitted an taking that material now to what they classified as three different areas onshore, near shore and off shore. I don’t know the details but from what I have been told briefly some of that information is missing as to where all that material will be placed. So if there is ten for example and now you’re showing me eight where is the other two million cubic meters? So I don’t know the details but it doesn’t sound like they have provided all the information that they have asked for.”