The future of a luxury hotel complex on the Philippine tourist island of Boracay looked in doubt Thursday after a court blocked completion of the project due to environmental concerns.
Overlooking Boracay’s world famous white powder sandy beach and crystal clear waters, the project has been at the centre of an environmental storm since construction began late last year.
The 28 million dollar 380-room Boracay Crown Regency Hotel and Convention Centre was scheduled to open in 2010 but the ruling means all work must stop while the developers fight it out in court.
The regional trial court ruled Wednesday that the developers did not have an environmental clearance to build and said the development infringed on delicate wetlands.
Boracay’s eco-system is already under threat from pollution and congestion brought about by heavy tourist traffic and development on the 10 square-kilometre (four square-mile) island.
An average of 50,000 tourists visit every month and environmentalists say the island can barely cope with the numbers.
Environment Secretary Joselito Atienza hailed the court ruling as a victory for the environment but the developers have vowed to fight the order.
The developers were given a local government building permit but were not granted an environmental clearance as the area was a protected wetland.
“The right of the (regulatory agency) is clear and unmistakable, and there is an urgent and permanent necessity for the writ to prevent serious damage,” Atienza said in a statement citing regional trial court judge Elmo del Rosario’s ruling.
Court officials were unavailable for comment Thursday.
“We are happy with the court’s decision. This only proves that we are on the right track in giving high priority to the protection of our environment,” Atienza said.
Earlier the government imposed a six-month total building ban on the island to July 2 as part of efforts to find solutions to problems of sewage contamination and rubbish disposal.