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Two Barbudan residents, Jacklyn Frank, and John Mussington, have taken legal action against Paradise Found to the Privy Council in London.
The residents are fighting to protect their homeland from being destroyed to make way for a golf course and luxury housing for the ultra-wealthy.
The dispute revolves around constructing an airport runway which the duo claimed was, built at the expense of a pristine forest following a devastating hurricane.
Frank and Mussington have the support of the Global Legal Action Network in their fight to protect their land.
The government’s attorney, Dr David Dorsett, has stated that the appeal has no actual standing.
“We are arguing that the appeal is academic. Whether or not they have standing makes no difference because the runway, the things agitating both men, has been constructed for many months now going on years,” he said
Dr Dorsett said while the legal challenge is significant, the net result will be the same.
“Whether or not there will be a new airport in Barbuda or not, that horse has been bolted from the barn and has done a number of circuits around the tracks”, he said
However, the residents are persisting in their fight to protect their community and the environment.
This case highlights the ongoing struggle between development and conservation, and the importance of protecting the rights of local communities in the face of large-scale development projects.
The US developers ‘Peace, Love, Happiness’ (PLH) backed by billionaire John Paul DeJoria, who has contributed 5 million USD for construction as part of their lease agreement.
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) will consider the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal’s decision to dismiss a legal challenge because the land defenders lacked standing to bring such a claim.
While the JCPC will decide on whether the Barbudans had standing to challenge the airport construction,
Jacklyn Frank, applicant and Barbudan Land Defender, said, the decision to fight against the development of the private jet airport on Barbuda was not taken lightly.
“But it had to be done… We, as Barbudans, were not consulted about this development. Our environment, our culture, our history, and our right to be consulted and participate in the future of our Lands have been ignored.”