“I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” —Margaret Thatcher
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Group challenges ministry’s approval
A group of activists opposing the construction of a sporting facility at the Orange Grove Savannah has initiated legal action challenging the planning permission granted for the project. In its claim, filed in the Port-of-Spain High Court on Monday, the “Save Our Orange Grove Savannah” group is seeking a declaration that the approval granted by the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development on September 27 last year is illegal, null, void and of no effect.
They contend that the ministry breached its duty under the Town and Country Planning Act by failing to consult with the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation and members of the public before granting approval. The legislation requires the ministry to consult with the regional body which controls the site of the proposed project and to invite members of the public to make objections which would be considered by a public inquiry.
The group consists of 17 people who live in areas near the savannah including Trincity, Tacarigua and Arouca, as well as two sports clubs, the Ulric “Buggy” Haynes Coaching School and the Dinsley Cricket Club. The group is also asking the court to quash the approval and order the ministry to carry out a “procedurally fair” consultation process in accordance with the legislation.
In October, the Sports Company of T&T (SPORTT) announced the beginning of construction of the proposed facility, which will include an international-standard football field, an athletics track, a 900-seat covered pavilion, public toilets and concessionaire spaces, and an indoor sporting facility.
On November 24, the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation issued a “Stop Order Notice” on the company contracted to construct the facility, Synthesis Group Ltd, saying their application for approval from the corporation was missing key documents including a certificate of clearance (CEC) from the Environmental Management Authority (EMA). The group began the litigation in December last year, when High Court judge Ricky Rahim gave it leave to file for judicial review.
The group is being represented by Senior Counsel Fyard Hosein and attorney Rishi Dass. The next hearing will take place next Thursday.