Grenada Land Actors Takes Legal Steps For More Transparency In The Physical Planning Process

PR – Grenada Land Actors confirms that it has instituted legal claim against the Planning and Development Authority of Grenada in the High Court of Justice of Grenada. Ms Rita L Joseph-Olivetti, Legal Consultant is instructed to act on its behalf.

Grenada Land Actors (‘GLA’) is a volunteer organisation advocating for sustainable development and land governance. This calls for accountability and transparency in the development process, particularly, at the planning stage. We advocate for early citizen engagement on any high-impact development, procedural transparency and respect for the environment. To our regret, the projects in question (i.e., at La Sagesse, Levera and Mount Hartman) appear to be lacking in all of these domains.

Interestingly, our concerns seem to echo those of Dr. the Rt. Honourable Keith Mitchell as reportedly expressed in the NOW Grenada article of 18 September 2020. In that article, Dr. Mitchell ‘underscored the importance of achieving greater compliance with planning policies, regulations and notices.’ 

It is for these same reasons that the GLA is bringing a claim for Judicial Review against the Planning and Development Authority (‘the Authority’) concerning its decisions regarding planning permissions granted to the three mega tourism developments presently taking place in sensitive coastal environments. A first hearing is scheduled to take place on 24th June 2021 (by zoom link due to COVID measures). 

A Judicial Review claim is a specific type of legal action that enables a person or group to ask the Court to review decisions taken by a public body. In our case, the public body is the Planning and Development Authority, a statutory body established under section 5 of the Physical Planning and Development Control Act 2016. The Authority is responsible for implementation of the Act. One of the main purposes of the Act as expressed in section 3 is to ensure that appropriate and sustainable use is made of all publicly owned and privately owned land in Grenada, in the public interest. Furthermore, the Act describes the Authority in section 38 as ‘the national service for the identification, protection, conservation and rehabilitation of the natural and cultural heritage of Grenada, in accordance with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s Convention for the protection of the World’s Cultural and Natural Heritage to which Grenada is a Party.

The Grenadian public has raised serious and considerable concerns about the potential negative impacts of these three ongoing developments on the natural and cultural heritage of Grenada. Over the last 12 months, these concerns have been documented in the national media as well as on our social media platform. We have worked tirelessly to progress our concerns positively – attending stakeholder consultations, attempting dialogue with developers, advocating for community involvement and making multiple attempts to get more information from the Authority. The group launched a petition highlighting ongoing concerns related to these developments, which has since been signed by over 6000 stakeholders. This petition was delivered to the address of the Chairperson of the Planning and Development Authority; but, to date, the group has not had any response. We regret that our efforts to engage transparently and positively with stakeholders have not avoided this legal step, which we now feel constrained yet compelled to take. 

The GLA is requesting that the Court review the Authority’s decisions, in the light of the information on the three developments that GLA has compiled and put before it, and to determine whether those decisions accord with law and the provisions of the Act. What we have observed does raise questions as to whether the decisions taken by the Authority were lawful, unreasonable or for some improper reason. This is what a Judicial Review seeks to establish. We are now guided by the Court’s determination, and we are not at liberty to offer further comment on the specific issues before the Court.

Our mandate has not changed; to seek, encourage, support and promote sustainable development and good land governance within the State of Grenada. We are for sustainable development, which, in essence, entails balancing economic growth with sound environmental practices   to enhance the quality of life and meet the needs of present and future generations. And therefore, we must insist that where development is permitted, it must be in accordance with Grenada’s laws and not to the detriment of the environment or continued sovereignty of the Grenadian people.   

Members of the public are encouraged to follow our case via the Court’s public gallery (via Zoom link we believe). It is your civic right to be present to hear these matters of public importance. The public gallery represents the People’s eyes and ears to hear the case and observe Justice being done. It is a fundamental principle of justice that not only must Justice be done,  it must be seen to be done. 

Please continue to support Grenadians’ right to sustainable development.