Mangroves in judge’s hands
(CNS): Activists who had gained an injunction against a developer who was dumping fill into the ocean to reclaim land for a condo development are now waiting for a judge to decide the future of the marine environment in South Sound. Justice Charles Quin heard submissions from environmental activist group Protect South Sound and RC Estates, the developer, on Tuesday over the court-ordered cessation of work at the site. The activists won a temporary injunction last week but want it extended until their appeal is heard by the Planning Appeals Tribunal. After hearing the arguments, the judge said he would deliver his decision within the next two weeks, but in the meantime the injunction stays in place.
The developer was given permission by the CPA to extend the shoreline by over 50 feet along 2,000 feet of shoreline in South Sound and to construct a seawall ahead of the development of several condos. However, the activists have appealed the decision as they say the Central Planning Authority (CPA) erred in law when it agreed with the attorney representing RC Estates that the land lost during Hurricane Ivan in 2004 could legally be reclaimed. The activists say that the law states clearly that coastal boundaries are not fixed.
In addition, the decision by the CPA is seen as one which could set a disturbing precedent if allowed to stand, with landowners across the island attempting to reclaim old eroded sea boundaries in accordance with previous surveys.
Despite recommendations from both planning and the environment departments against it, the CPA went ahead and granted permission and the developer began dumping marl into the ocean last week. Aside from the obvious threat to the marine life in the area, the fill was being poured directly onto a mangrove replenishment project managed by the Department of Environment and funded by an outside grant from the United States.
With government applying for and receiving an important international grant on one hand and then giving planning permission for construction in the same spot on the other, the DoE has expressed serious concerns about how that will impact any future international grant or support for the numerous critically important projects the DoE is involved with in an effort to try and save the islands' threatened natural environment.
Mangroves perish under fill (17 October 2012)
South Sound mangrove threat (3 September 2012)
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