Judge permits preparatory work for Statia Terminal expansion

ST. EUSTATIUS--The Court of First Instance turned down on Monday St. Eustatius Monument Foundation's (SEMF's) request for an injunction against the possibility outlined in the St. Eustatius Spatial Development Plan of constructing a new oil terminal in the area known as The Farm.

In his ruling, Judge René van Veen stated that the injunction should be dismissed because there was no imminent need to interfere, because at this moment no building and environmental permits or any other permits had been issued for the expansion of NuStar Statia Terminal in said area.

The injunctions filed by Monuments Director Walter Hellebrand and two individuals were based on the appeals filed against parts of the Spatial Development Plan.

Both parties claimed that preparatory work for the new oil terminal had already started, even though the required decision of the Executive Council to allow the building of such facilities had not been taken yet. That was their reason for asking for an injunction, as the actual appeal cases would not be dealt with for some months, which meant that in the meantime, preparatory work for the terminal's expansion in The Farm could still continue.

SEMF also stated before a capacity crowd in the courtroom that Statia's cultural heritage had been damaged in the process and that it would frustrate plans to create a "Heritage Trail" on the island.

The foundation claimed that NuStar's expansion would jeopardise the development of tourism as Statia's second economic pillar, while the 31-metre-high storage tanks would have a considerable effect on the value of 80 per cent of the island's real estate.

The island government, which had passed the Spatial Development Plan on April 29, was represented by attorney-at-law Bert Hofman. He argued that there was no reason for an injunction, as no decision on the terminal's expansion had been taken by the Executive Council. If such a decision were taken, then it would be possible to object and appeal, Hofman said.

The government lawyer also stated that cultural heritage would not be destroyed by any plan.

As an affected third party, NuStar also explained its standpoint as represented by lawyer Thies Leijsen, legal advisor C. Rulon and NuStar's St. Eustatius terminal manager Mike MacDonald. Their arguments were in the same vein as those of the island government.

In his ruling, the judge also allowed the continuation of archaeological research in the contested area, because the Spatial Development Plan does not prevent NuStar from carrying out radar survey into the possible presence of artefacts and remains of archaeological and cultural-historical value.

The judge also pointed to the fact that even with a permit, damaging of archaeological remains would not be possible, as these are protected under the Treaty of Malta.

The judge's decision is final, because an appeal is not possible.

25 July 2011

The Island government was represented by attorney at law Bert Hofman. NuStar was represented by Thijs Leijsen, attorney at law at the law firm VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne.

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