NATURA DEVELOPMENT N.V., again in the news

From the verdict: “The court assessed the minister’s decision to grant Natura a construction permit with conditions for raising and/or leveling the bottom of the ocean in order to reclaim the beach and for the construction of two jetties, breakwaters.

The minister granted this construction permit by decision on June 16, 2023.

The Aruba Birdlife Conservation, ABC, objected to this and requested a provisional injunction. The request for a provisional injunction was heard October 18, 2023.”

The minister in question is the Prime Minister of Aruba since she is serving as the Minister of Infrastructure and Spatial Planning.

ABC argued that creating a beach contradicts the area’s natural, ecological, archeological, cultural-historical, or geological values. The court agreed with this assessment and said it was well-founded

Bottom line: This is a marine zone not to be disturbed without a specific exemption, meaning a specific permit that would allow removal of turtle grass and altering the marine-bed, which is not happening, it’s out of the question, not now, and hopefully, not in the future.

Write lawyer Lincoln Gomez: By the looks of this, Embassy Suites will have no beach this high season or in the foreseeable future or ever.

This is BIG.

The court accepted ABC’s claims that the construction permit contradicts, and as a minister, and/or prime minister you are allowed to grant permits, but they must remain within the framework of the law.

The prime minister is not above the law here, and Embassy Suites should have done its homework, BEFORE starting construction of the hotel.

The take away: Do your homework, you cannot claim damages now, because it was all spelled out, in the ROPV, the spatial and development plan.

Now what? Who knows? A new petition?

Lawyer Geert Rep reports there is no legal foundation for the permit request, unless you change the ROPV and since that is not happening now, there will be no beach.

And if the resort decides to sue, no judge will rule in its favor. They started talking about a resort at that location in 2015 and building began around in 2018,  without a beach. Developers stitched together a luxury hotel project, consisting of 330 suites, with swimming pools, a casino and other amenities. The resort is now operational, I visited there this week – they have nice public restrooms with original art on the walls.

In preparation for beach access, they even constructed a tunnel on theirs grounds that runs under the J.E. Irausquin Boulevard and ends at the narrow beach across the resort. They got some useless letter in 2019, that mentions the need to get an exemption, they applied for a permit to build a beach in 2022, in August and In October, then against in January 2023, and in June 2023. Finally, they got the permit with the need to get exemptions mentioned again, and in July 2023, the court stopped construction, that was attempted by the resort. At that time, the hotel was already hosting guests.

If this case is ever heard, a Dutch judge will say we are all big boys here, those are the risks one takes doing business. They do not stand any chance to win a case against the government.

The resort is built, knowing it would have no beach.

They spent tens of millions of dollars, hoping ‘it will work out.’

Hope only goes so far.

ABC is an NGO that strives to protect nature in Aruba.



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November 16, 2023
Rona Coster