05 August 2011

Environmental,archaeological challenges to Statia oil storage expansion dismissed by Dutch Judge



ST. EUSTATIUS — Last Monday, the Court in First Instance dismissed the request from St. Eustatius Monument Foundation (SEMF) to institute summary proceedings against the possibility of building new oil storage tanks in the district known as The Farm and as mentioned in the St. Eustatius Spatial Development Plan (see www.nustarenergy.com/StEustatius).

Judge René van Veen declared that he had to reject summary proceedings because there was no distinct necessity for intervention. At this moment, no construction, environment or other permits were granted for the expansion of NuStar Statia Terminal in this district.

The legal steps taken by the director of the Monument Fund, Walter Hellebrand and two citizens were based on petitions against parts of the Spatial Development Plan. Both parties argued that the preparation activities for the new oil storage tanks had already begun although the Island Council had not yet taken the decision to approve the construction of these facilities.

This was the reason why one had requested permission for summary proceedings because the petitions would not come up in court the coming months, meaning one could meanwhile continue the preparation activities for the expansion of The Farm. In a crowded courtroom, SEMF argued that the cultural heritage of St. Eustatius had been damaged in the process and that the plans to create a ‘Heritage Trail’ would be frustrated.

The foundation mentioned that the expansion of NuStar would also influence the tourism development –the second economic pillar of St. Eustatius– as the 31-meter high storage tanks would take up 80 percent of the real estate on the island.

Lawyer Bert Hofman represented the island government that had adopted the Spatial Development Plan on April 29th. He stated there was no reason for summary proceedings because the Island Council had not yet taken a decision on the expansion of the terminal. Only when a decision was taken, could one protest and lodge an objection, said Hofman.

The government’s lawyer also stated the cultural heritage would not incur damage through any plan. As the aggrieved third party, NuStar gave their viewpoint through lawyer Thies Leijsen, legal advisor C. Rolan and NuStar’s St. Eustatius terminal manager Mike MacDonald.

In his verdict, the judge also allowed the continuation of the archeological research in the challenged area because the Spatial Development Plan may not obstruct the radar research of NuStar into the possible presence of items and remains with an archeological and cultural-historic value.

The judge pointed out that even with a permit one was not allowed to damage archeological remains because they are protected under the Treaty of Malta.

The judge’s verdict is binding because one cannot lodge an appeal.

Also see: More Questions In Dutch Parliament About Nustar's Plans On St. Eustatius

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