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VIEC Near the End of Court

Nightmare in the British Virgin Islands

Beef Island’s pristine shore, salt ponds and hillsides stand in stark contrast to the view of Tortola behind which is scarred by road cuts and developments not yet completed.

Near the end of court session,

with the IGY representatives in the back of the court, the Justice invited parties to settle out of court. Representing VIEC Barristers Hockman and Beard were asked what concessions developers could give to avoid further expenses and to enable them to proceed with some developments. The Barristers made clear that there would be no offers to settle. To do so would deprive locals of the public process necessary for viable and eco-friendly developments. Judging by surprised looks, it was a most unusual response to turn down a request by developers to settle out of Court. However, already BVIslanders are talking amongst themselves and on radio how best to develop Beef Island. It is vital for developers and government to go back to the people and to give full consideration to what they are asking for in an open public dialogue process.

Justice Charles will make her decision regarding VIEC’s case against the Beef Island resort before the end of July. Regardless of her ruling there will likely be an appeal to be scheduled months later.

For the first time people of the BVI came together and challenged government for colluding with developers who did not include local interests in their plans.  Whatever the Justice may rule of these days in Court, it became clear to government, developers and the media that VIEC is a coherent force to reckon with.  Developers and government were made accountable for their actions.  They would be prudent, in the future, to seek VIEC approval before permitting or spending significant funds.  VIEC was indubitable and held fast to their Christian principle of stewardship for BVI environments.

The Ocean River Institute is proud to have been pivotal in assisting by getting the word out, acting as fiscal agent, and raising the funds VIEC needed. Thanks to your financial support, this may be the first time in the Caribbean that locals have had the means to standup to developers in collusion with government.

Thank you to all who have or are gifting support to the Ocean River Institute. We will face significant financial hurdles before the year is over. Please help us find additional individuals who understand the legacy value of protecting the last pristine parts of Tortola-Beef Island, and who understand the vital necessity for place-based environmental watch groups in particular the Virgin Island Environmental Council.

Please join with me in investing in natural areas and in the future of people practicing responsible stewardship for all by making a donation right now.

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.

The case has received international attention and acclaim, including the support of Sir Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Atlantic Airways and Mosquito and Necker Islands in the BVI. Sir Richard provided ORI discounted flights on his airline for the legal team flying in from the UK.

In relation to funding for the legal action which continues to be a major challenge, 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. You may join with Sir Richard in support of VIEC by making a contribution on line. Please indicate your ecological interests on the tax-exempt form.