Bahamas Supreme Court Grants Permission for Judicial Review

A coalition of Bahamian NGOs and businesses are fighting to protect The Bahamas from foreign oil developers. Fredrick R.M. Smith, QC, a Bahamian lawyer representing Save the Bays and Waterkeepers Bahamas, explains that the coalition will use the recently granted judicial review proceedings to try to stop any future drilling. The proceedings will bring information into the open and allow the public to participate in this decision, which will impact the future of all Bahamians.

Save the Bays fights unregulated development and environmental degradation in The Bahamas with its community partners and other NGOs by raising awareness and taking legal action. Save the Bays promotes the rule of law, environmental protection legislation, conservation awareness, and government transparency.

Fred points out that oil drilling in The Bahamas is completely incompatible with tourism and the fishing industries that are the foundation of the economy, and that this first exploratory well could open the floodgates to further oil development if it is not stopped.

Earlier this month, when the court granted Save the Bays and Waterkeepers Bahamas permission to begin the judicial review action against the oil drilling, the Judge found that Save the Bays and Waterkeepers Bahamas had an arguable case against the government’s decisions which are the subjects of the judicial review action. These decisions include the Town Planning Committee’s failure to prevent drilling by Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) in the absence of approvals required under the Planning and Subdivision Act.

The trial for the judicial review is expected to be heard mid-February 2021.

ELAW’s science team supported the coalition’s efforts by critiquing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Perseverance #1 exploratory well.
For more information, please see:

Eyewitness News, January 6, 2021
Save The Bays “ecstatic” over oil drilling judicial review

The Tribune, January 5, 2021
Environmentalists Granted Leave for Oil Drilling Judicial Review

Bern Johnson
Executive Director
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide