Premier Alden McLaughlin

Premier Alden McLaughlin has said the 19 Dec. vote on government’s $200 million cruise berthing and cargo project is now “uncertain” after the legal action taken by the National Trust for the Cayman Islands.

The Trust, on Monday, filed for leave to apply for judicial review of the referendum on the project. It is seeking a stay of the vote until a new environmental impact assessment is completed.

In its statement issued on the legal action Monday, the Trust said it was not satisfied with government’s response to the legal letter it issued two weeks ago outlining its concerns about the project and its environmental impact. The Trust added it valued the close working relationship it has with the Cayman Islands government and “therefore does not take this decision lightly”.

McLaughlin, speaking at the start of Finance Committee Tuesday, said both the Trust and Cruise Port Referendum (CPR) Cayman have taken legal action on the port vote.

In CPR’s case they have not filed documents to apply for judicial review, but they have commenced legal action to protect their right to apply for judicial review at a later stage.

“This action as most regrettable,” he said. “There is now grave uncertainly as to whether or not the referendum will actually proceed and the state of uncertainty and division in the country will only continue and heighten.”

While the vote is in limbo, McLaughlin said the national holiday that was set for 19 Dec. for the referendum will continue as planned.

Opposition Leader Arden McLean questioned the government’s response to the steps taken by the two entities.

McLaughlin said he has yet to meet with Attorney General Samuel Bulgin on the matter. However, he said government wishes to proceed with the referendum.

“The position of the National Trust and CPR Cayman is that we should not and they are seeking leave of the court to bring judicial review proceedings aimed at stopping or delaying the holding of the referendum,” he said.

McLaughlin said he does not know what the applications look like or if they have any merit.

He added government believes it is in the national interest for the referendum to proceed ion the 19th.

McLean pressed the premier on when he intends to make a definitive decision on the government’s stand on the matter.

However, McLaughlin said he is not in a position to say anything and he was unclear if government will be invited to be a party to the application proceedings or if they will done ex-parte.

He said the only thing that is certain is “the prospect of the referendum proceeding on the 19th December is uncertain.”

It is unclear when the leave for judicial review applications will be heard in court.

Finance Committee continues Wednesday.