BEST wins South Basin appeal
The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce has won a Supreme Court appeal against the handling of the South Basin project.
BEST launched legal action against the Development Applications Board (DAB) and the minister responsible for planning about the environmental impact of the West End project.
While the Bermuda Government had said the project was environmentally sound, BEST argued that the assessments that had been carried out were inadequate and flawed.
The organisation said yesterday: “The court action permits the South Basin landfill and its interim use for the America's Cup Event Village, but rejects the end uses that developer Wedco had in mind, namely a commercial boatyard, a luxury marina and the consolidated offices and maintenance facility for the Marine and Ports Department.
“The core factor for BEST was that in a major development such as this one, the DAB had a mandatory and legal obligation to obtain the best possible environmental information on which to base its decision.
“However, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA/EIS) that was initially conducted for the project was substandard and inadequate to uphold that obligation.
“From the outset, BEST informed the developer, the Department of Planning, the Development Applications Board and the minister that the submitted EIS was too flawed to rely upon.
“All of those entities dismissed BEST's concerns and, driven by the advent of the America's Cup, pressed ahead with the development. The court's decision vindicates BEST's stance.
“The court validated BEST's action in this case as one serving the public interest by awarding BEST a protective costs order that covered a portion of BEST's legal expenses.”
The entire judgment will be available on the BEST website, best.org.bm, in the near future.
Work on the project has already begun, with materials collected from the dredging of the North Channel being moved to the South Basin.
The work caused sediment plumes in the basin this year, which BEST claimed could potentially have more serious consequences than suggested by the initial environmental advisories.