With the recent completion of the Environmental Impact Assessment on the proposed $200 million (US$100 million) Hyatt Centric hotel project at Bay Street, the man who was legally challenging the granting of building permission to the developers has said he is satisfied that the correct procedure is now being followed.
Attorney-at-law and Ambassador to CARICOM David Comissiong told Barbados TODAY that the judicial review he sought for the 2017 decision by then Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to grant approval without having first conducted an EIA, was now a moot point.
He said: “My challenge was essentially asking the court to scrutinise the manner in which [then] Prime Minister Stuart purported to have processed this application.
“And I did this because I did not believe that it had been properly processed and I therefore presented the judge with all the reasons why I had come to that conclusion.
“So, if under the new administration, the proper legal procedure for processing these applications is being followed– an EIA has been done and Town Hall meetings are being held– then I can have no quarrel with that.
“I still do not approve of the project, but It is not for me to make the decision on the application.
“However, it was my right to insist that it had to be processed in accordance with the law,” he said.
An extensive study, which is available for download on theHyattcarlislebay.com website well as for viewing at the public library, encompasses a wide range of areas, which include the project’s impact on heritage, drainage, traffic, socio economic factors, pollution and a geotechnical study.
The study also factors in disaster management and an environmental monitoring plan.
Comissiong told Barbados TODAY that while he is still in the process of going through the assessment, he is satisfied that the developers are now at least following the legally required procedure.
He said: “The legal process was always that an Environmental Impact Assessment be done, the results of the [EIA] be made available to the people of Barbados, that town hall meetings be held where the people of Barbados could discuss the results of the report and raise questions.
“In addition, all of this has to be fed back to the Town and Country Planning Department and in particular the person who would be ultimately making the decision [Prime Minister Mia Mottley].
“This was always the process and it is good to see that the process is now being followed.”
Stuart, in his capacity as Minister responsible for town planning, had given developer Mark Maloney’s company – Visions Development Inc. – permission to build the multi-million-dollar high-rise hotel resort in the centre of a UNESCO-designated World Heritage area.
But Comissiong, a long-time political and social activist, has been relentless in his objection to the project and earlier this year he had made it clear that he was not backing down from the challenge, which has been cited as one of the reasons for the project being at a standstill for the last three years.
But this afternoon, Comissiong explained that the developers have essentially undertaken a new application for planning permission.
While he said he was still not happy with the proposal, his legal standing as a citizen of Barbados only extended to the procedural discrepancies. He pointed out that it was now up to the people of Barbados to study the report and make any objections that they may have.
Comissiong declared: “It is now up to the people of Barbados to make use of the process.
“It is now their duty to go to the public library or go to the website to access the EIA report to read the report and analyse it and to determine for themselves whether the correct studies were done in a serious and rigorous manner and whether they have confidence in the outcomes of the studies.
“They must then go to the town hall meetings and participate in the process.
“This is why this process was so important because we the people of Barbados must of have a say in the process.
“What we say in those town hall meetings must be taken into account by the Prime Minister in the making of her decision.” [email protected]