The Supreme Court of Belize has sided with environmentalists who want to protect the world’s second largest coral reef. In a case brought by environment groups, Belize’s Supreme Court has declared offshore oil drilling contracts issued by the Government of Belize in 2004 and 2007 null and void.
The ruling halts the Belizean government’s immediate effort to allow offshore oil drilling in the Meso American Reef, the world’s second largest barrier reef.
The ruling by Justice Oswell Legall was in response to a case brought by Oceana, Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action, COLA, and the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage.
The court overturned the contracts after determining that the government failed to assess the environmental impact of drilling for oil on Belize’s ocean, as required by law, before issuing the contracts.
The court also found that contracts were made to companies that did not demonstrate a proven ability to contribute the necessary funds, assets, machinery, equipment, tools and technical expertise to drill safely.