Ruling on Beef Island Case Delayed


The judge’s ruling on the Beef Island environmental case, which was to be deliverd on September 15, has been delayed until Monday, September 21st, Justice Hariprashad-Charles has announced. The controversial three-day trial concluded in late April following an intense presentation by a battery of UK Lawyers, headed by renowned environmental lawyer Stephen Hockman Q.C who appeared for the VI Environmental Council(VIEC) – who was claimant in the case, the Attorney General Kathleen Quartey who represented Government – the defendant and Gerard Farara Q.C who appeared for the developer, Quorom Island (BVI) Limited. The case involved judicial review of the former NDP Government’s planning approval for a five-star hotel, marina and golf course that would destroy the scientifically documented biologically important Hans Creek Fisheries Protected Area in Beef Island, British Virgin Islands. Beef Island is the sixth largest of the British Virgin Islands, 918 acres. It is situated directly east of Tortola and connected by a short two-lane bridge. The island hosts two sparsely populated settlements in the west and northern parts, either side of the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport. During the hearing, novel areas of law were judicially considered which is expected to affect the future of sustainable development, planning policy, and the status of protected areas in the BVI and throughout the Caribbean. 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. Sir Richard provided discounted flights on his airline for the legal team who came in from the UK. The VIEC has been fortunate to receive the assistance of the Cambridge-based Ocean River Institute (ORI). It is a registered US Charity that provides support services for small environmental groups to take action in their own communities. The decision is expected to be appealed, and the legal struggle to save Beef Island is expected to continue through the Virgin Islands-OECS court system right up to the level of the Privy Council.
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