On October 5, 2023, Justice Beharry refused to grant all the Orders requested by activists, Vanda Radzik and Elizabeth Deane-Hughes, who made an Application for Judicial Review to, among other things, have the Environmental Permit for the Gas to Energy (GTE) Project (Environmental Permit 20210528-NGPLE) cancelled. The two who were represented by Attorneys Melinda Janki, Abiola Wong –Inniss and Joel Ross, alleged that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted in breach of the law by failing to require ExxonMobil Guyana Limited,then Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited) to show that it had the legal right to conduct the activity on the lands through which the Natural Gas Transport Pipeline would traverse.
In response to the allegations raised, the EPA, the Attorney General of Guyana and ExxonMobil Guyana Limited (EMGL) adduced cogent evidence of the documentation provided to establish EMGL’s legal right to conduct the activity. Whilst it was noted that further documentations should have been submitted, at paragraph 69 of the judgment, the Court highlighted the fact that;
“Judicial review is not concerned with vindication in the public sphere… It was never intended to be a sword for satisfaction but rather a shield against excesses of public functionaries”.
The Court therefore took note of the fact that,
“there [was] no evidence that the Applicants were personally aggrieved by the EPA’s decision to grant a permit to Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited[t]he Applicants [did not] cogently articulate what real or substantial public wrong occurred to them or the wide Guyanese populace upon the grant of the environmental permit facility, which would justify quashing the decision of the EPA”.
As a result, the Court determined that none of the Orders requested by the Applicants would be granted.
The EPA was represented by Attorneys Sanjeev Datadin,Frances Carryl, Shareefah Parks and Niomi Alsopp.
As the EPA commits to lawfully carrying out its functions, members of the public are encouraged to participate by making meaningful and constructive contributions, in good faith, to its decision-making processes. In this way, the EPA is able to judiciously meet its mandate of ensuring the effective management of Guyana’s environment as well as the sustainable use of its natural resources.