Best awarded $40,000 in court costs

An environmental charity will get more than $40,000 to pay for its legal fight against all-terrain vehicle tours.

Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce was awarded court costs of $41,790.14 which will be covered by the Government of Bermuda yesterday.

BEST launched judicial review proceedings after Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, gave the green light, last year, to tour operator Rudolph Hollis to run quad-bike tours, in the West End.

The Chief Justice, Narinder Hargun, quashed the decision in February.

Kim Smith, the executive director of BEST, said the charity was pleased with the ruling.

She added: “The National Parks Act does not provide for this type of activity without evidence of overriding public interest which was not borne out by the public consultation.

“Sacrificing the relative sanctuary of the Railway Trail and parks, where locals and visitors alike, can escape the incessant traffic on our roads, was unacceptable.

“Some ideas for tourism activities are suitable for Bermuda, while others are not.”

Mr Justice Hargun said in his ruling that Colonel Burch had “assumed that planning permission was not required” when he granted approval for the tours on the Railway Trail, Fort Scaur Park and Hog Bay Park. He added: “In my judgment, that was an erroneous assumption and amounted to an error of law.

“The minister, as the decision-maker, is required to properly address himself, in relation to relevant legal issues, and failure to do so will result in the decision-making being set aside on an application for a judicial review.”

Colonel Burch did not respond to a request for comment by press time yesterday.

Mr Burch announced, in the House of Assembly, in March 2018, that he had granted approval to the company for a “licence to use vehicles on Government of Bermuda property, for a trial period of one year”.

Colonel Burch said that the licence would allow for termination if conditions were not adhered to.

Hundreds of objections to the plan were made by members of the public during the planning consultation period in 2017.

To view the Chief Justice’s judgment in full, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”

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