Waterloo Holdings Expresses Frustration Over Alleged Government Bias in Environmental Clearance Process
After spending millions of dollars in attempts at getting environmental clearance, the group at Waterloo Holdings are upset at the constant moving of the goal posts, and what they say is the evident bias behavior by the government. Luis Pietra-Munoz has condemned the government actions, and says that the expectations of environmental clearance should apply across the board. This, he says, has not been the case when it comes to Port of Magical. Jelle Prins also had questions on why Port of Belize is still having a hard time getting clearance after jumping through hoops to meet the requirements.
Luis Prieto Munoz, Representative, Piedroba Consulting Group: “An EIA process, which is a technical process, should never be taken for granted because ultimately, there should be a scientific decision as to whether to approve or not approve. In this particular case, we produced an EIA and studies and we presented a project that we believed was sound and was viable for every international standard that was in front of us and that’s the standard to which we produced it. The Port of Magical Belize team produced a different EIA which in our estimation was of, you know, of there was value to it, but it was a lot thinner than ours to put it politely. They didn’t exert nearly the same resources that we did in producing studies. To give you an example, the geology included in their EIA was specifically referenced by their in-house geologist as being insufficient. Yet that EIA was approved easily, without difficulty, at the first go around with a single public consultation. And we, with a significantly smaller environmental impact, given that this is a brownfield versus greenfield project, with a significantly larger volume of study and a significantly higher standard to which we presented our EIA given that it was designed to conform to all the prevailing multilateral agreements, we were denied again and again and again. So I think that the point that we’re making is not that the environmental community necessarily owed us anything but the basis upon which they should approve or deny should be scientific and not political. And I think it’s abundantly clear that wasn’t the case at this go-around.”
Jelle Prins, Representative, Piedroba Consulting Group: “There are flaws but for a process like this to be flawed and unfair? It’s hard to accept. Why did Portico get an MOU one month after they incorporated the entity that they were using for the MOU? Why did they get a definitive agreement? Why did government act per that definitive agreement? We never got any of those things. So we’re the existing national port of Belize that would deliver cargo and bulk benefits to the people of Belize together with preserving cruise tourism. And that’s the one that didn’t get any of that.”