Licences, Environmental Impact Assessments

The appellant appealed against a decision affirming the decision of the Minister of the Environment to refuse the grant of an Environmental Impact Assessment licence. The appellant wanted to carry out a morcellement project consisting of the subdivision of its portion of agricultural land and sugar cane cultivation.

The decision to deny the EIA licence was reached on the ground that it was against the Government’s Policy to divide cane fields into smaller lots as it could lead to counter productivity and adverse impact on the national economy.

The appellant stated several grounds for its standpoint including that the morcellement is environmentally friendly and that the present infrastructure would not be affected at all. Learned Counsel for the appellant meant that since the project was environmentally friendly, the Minister’s decision was untenable in law.

The Court pointed out that the protection of the environment was an important concept that, however, also included public interest issues and issues affecting the welfare and economy of the state. Bearing in mind that the sugar industry has been the main pillar of the country’s economy it was in some cases necessary to limit and control individual contractual freedom to make sure that the highest degree of efficiency was achieved. Therefore, the Court dismissed the appeal.