After examining the arguments presented to her by parties involved in the Beef Island case in Tortola, Justice Hariprashad-Charles will hand down her ruling at some point within the next three-months. The three-day controversial trial concluded last Friday following heated arguments by lawyers on both sides of the issue. A battery of UK Lawyers, headed by renowned environmental lawyer Stephen Hockman Q.C., appeared on behalf of the Virgin Islands Environmental Council (VIEC), the claimant in the case. BVI Attorney General Kathleen Quartey represented the Government, who is the defendant in the case. Gerard Farara Q.C. appeared for the developer, Quorom Island (BVI) Limited. Judge Harisprashad-Charles’ ruling will most likely be appealed, and everyone expects the case to continue through the Virgin Islands-OECS court system right up to the level of the Privy Council. The case is being followed closely by environmental groups throughout the Caribbean, as it marks the first challenge to a decision made by a local government that impacts negatively on sustainable development, planning policy, and the status of protected areas in the BVI and throughout the Caribbean.
The case involves judicial review of the former NDP Government’s planning approval for a five-star hotel, marina and golf course that would destroy the biologically important Hans Creek Fisheries Protected Area in Beef Island, British Virgin Islands. The case has received international attention, including the support of Sir Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Atlantic Airways and Mosquito and Necker Islands in the BVI. The environmental group has also received assistance from the Cambridge-based Ocean River Institute (ORI), a U.S. environmental organization that provides support services for small environmental groups to take action in their own communities.
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