Appeals Court dismisses appeal by Save Guana Cay Reef Association
By LEDEDRA MARCHE
Senior FN Reporter
The Court of Appeal yesterday dismissed the Save Guana Cay Reef Association (SGCRA) appeal and now the group plans to take their plight to a higher court.
Attorneys for the SGCRA and Discovery Land Company (DLC), developers of the Baker's Bay Golf and Ocean Club (BBC) in Guana Cay, Abaco, appeared before Justices Lorris Ganpatsingh, Emmanuel Osadebay and Dame Joan Sawyer, president of the Court of Appeal, in the capital on Monday.
"We remain confident in our case and we will shortly be applying to the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal to the Privy Council," SGCRA attorney Fred Smith told The Freeport News.
Government entered into a Heads of Agreement with the developers for the $500 million project to include a luxurious 75-room hotel, 350 homes, a golf course and a 180-slip marina on 450 acres of private land and 150 acres of beach front Crown Land.
The Save Guana Cay group challenged the Heads of Agreement, claiming, among other things, the move was illegal, the parties entered into it irrationally and failed to consult with the residents as promised.
The association then filed a suit to block the multi-million dollar Abaco project and named Prime Minister Perry Christie, Wendell Major, secretary to the National Economic Council, Eugenia Cartwright, treasurer of The Bahamas, and the developers as respondents in the suit.
The association has maintained that the Baker's Bay project is harmful to the land and marine environment and was irrational for the government to enter into agreement with the DLC.
However, yesterday attorney Smith pointed out that one of the good things about the Court of Appeal decision is that the courts found that the Save Guana Cay group was entitled to be consulted in that they did have sufficient interest.
"Unfortunately, however, for us," Smith added, "the court found that we were consulted and found that our views were taken into account.
"We feel that there was an error by the court in finding those facts and the Court of Appeal also went into the merits of environmental impact assessment, that is something we didn't do at the trial."
In fact, Smith pointed out that the SGCRA's complaint was procedural that they were promised an opportunity to be heard, but there was no hearing.
"You can't say that someone has been properly consulted if you haven't even given them copies of the documents that you are asking them to comment on. That has always been our problem, we were left out of the loop completely."
Smith further claims the Office of the Prime Minister told the developers not to consult the SGCRA until after they had received final approval.
That, he insists, is simply not permissible.
"So we intend to appeal to the Privy Council as soon as possible," the SGCRA attorney.
© 2008 The Freeport News