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Judge varies Manzanilla Highway injunction

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

High Court judge Kevin Ramcharan yesterday varied the injunction he granted barring construction works on the Manzanilla Highway as he gears up to hear submissions on whether or not a lawsuit filed against the awarding of a Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC), allowing the highway to be built, should be allowed.

Ramcharan had initially set yesterday’s date to hear arguments from attorneys representing the Fisherman and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) and Environmental Management Authority (EMA) regarding whether or not a trial should take place.

Most of yesterday was spent arguing whether or not the FFOS should be allowed to amend their original submission, thereby interrupting an already scheduled timeline for the hearing of submissions.

After Ramcharan ruled that he will not allow the timeline to be re-arranged, Anand Ramlogan, SC, began his submissions on behalf of his client the FFOS.

The contention being put forward by the FFOS is that the granting of the CEC which allowed for the construction of the highway will inevitably erode parts of the Aripo Savannas, which is a protected area. FFOS hopes that their claim will go to trial and ultimately stop what they say is the contravention of established laws protecting the environmentally renowned region.

Ramlogan argued that the CEC was granted without proper consultation adding the bare minimum was done to satisfy the necessary criteria.

In response, Senior Counsel Deborah Peake, who is representing the EMA, said apart from the fact that the FFOS filed their claim outside the three month allotted time, the FFOS had ample time to be part of the consultations that were done and failed to do so.

She added that after they failed to participate in the consultations that were done, they were now complaining that the consultations were not done properly.

Peake later gave way for another attorney, Ian Benjamin, who is representing the State to make submissions on the injunction granted last week stopping work on the highway.

Benjamin submitted that he was against the injunction being continued, which expired yesterday. He stated that a variation of the order could be granted which will allow all parties to have a slice of the proverbial cake. The variation he suggested was to allow the access road, which is not near the construction zone, to continue being built, which the judge allowed.

Also in court yesterday was Douglas Mendes SC who is representing the contractor Kallco. Mendes said $3 million had already been spent on works so far and was objecting to the injunction being extended. He said the work being done was outside the area being argued about and while his client had not done anything wrong, they are being penalised by not being able to continue the work.


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