Chief Justice Quashes Minister’s ATV Decision

February 21, 2019

[Updated] The decision to allow proposed All Terrain Vehicle [ATV] tours in the West End has been quashed in the Supreme Court today [Feb 21].

In his judgement, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Narinder Hargun said, “I have held that in granting the approval for this ATVs proposal, the Minister assumed that planning permission was not required. I have also held that, in my judgment, it was an erroneous assumption and amounted to an error of law.

“In the circumstances, I order that the Minister’s decision, announced on 16 March in relation to Mr Hollis’ proposal to operate ATV tours, is hereby quashed.”

Proceedings were commenced by the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce [BEST] last year seeking an order that the decision of the Minister granting approval for the ATV tours licence be quashed. The Bermuda National Trust appeared as an Interested Party and broadly supported the position taken by BEST.

A spokesperson for the Bermuda National Trust [BNT] said, “The Bermuda National Trust is pleased that the decision to allow the proposed ATV tours in our National Parks has been quashed in the Supreme Court today.

“We joined the case brought by the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Task Force as an interested party because we believed that granting approval of the tours without the necessary due diligence, including environmental impact studies, planning permission and full consultation of the Parks Commission, would set an extremely dangerous precedent and threat to our national parks, which are enjoyed by Bermuda residents and visitors on a daily basis.

“By joining as an interested party, the court heard the Trust’s position on the matter [read affidavits below].

“Bermuda’s planning process is a vital and robust public instrument that evaluates development proposals that impact our daily lives. For a proposal as significant and as complex as this, involving three large national parks, large swaths of protected areas and historic monuments, planning permission is essential. We are happy that the Chief Justice agreed.

“Most significantly, we welcome the fact that the Chief Justice rejected an argument by the Government that the Minister for Parks is not required to follow the normal planning application process when seeking to change the use of public parks.

“Because the Government did not follow normal planning procedures, the public was denied the opportunity to understand the full impact of the proposal or to participate fully in the decision-making process. We hope that the public will now be able to do so.

“In our opinion, had the proposal been submitted to planning, the Development Applications Board would have required the applicant to submit environmental impact studies to determine the potential impact on historic monuments, other users of the parks, wildlife, erosion, safety, neighbours, policing, Parks’ Department’s operations, and more. As it was, the tours were approved without the full benefit of assessing any potential problems, risks and adverse effects.

“We are disappointed that the Chief Justice did not agree with our position that the Minister had exceeded his discretion in this case; we maintain the Trust’s long-held position that our system of governance affords Ministers too much latitude in matters of discretion.

“Our principle concern was for the users of the parks and the parks themselves as Hog Bay Park and Scaur Hill Fort Park would have been damaged and the by the introduction of these vehicles and the parks’ functions as places of conservation and educational, social and recreational enjoyment would have been detrimentally affected. The Railway Trail was added to the parks system following extensive public consultation, specifically to create an accessible, continuous parkland for pedestrians and cyclists and, as far as is practicable, link one end of the island to the other.

“The Bermuda National Trust supports sustainable tourism development and innovation, especially the sustainable growth of both eco- and cultural tourism. However, if eco-tourism is to grow in Bermuda, it must be done in a way that does not harm the very environment it is seeking to promote to our visitors. It remains our belief that the proposed ATV tours will do just that.”

Update 5.50pm: Asked for a comment on today’s ruling, Minister of Public Works, Lt. Col. David Burch said, “I have no comment on the matter at this time.”

The full judgement follows below [PDF here]:

The affidavit of Dorcas Roberts follows below [PDF here]:

The affidavit of Dr. David Wingate follows below [PDF here]:

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Comments (43)

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  1. WSP says:

    So I guess people east of White Hill have a say Colonel.That will teach you.

  2. ChrisB says:

    PLP is falling apart and the cracks are beginning to show!

    • Pork & Bean says:

      They changed the face of the PLP, but kept the butt. Anyone that has ever been connected to politics OBA or PLP knows that the voice and face of the party is rarely the shot caller.

  3. Toodle-oo says:

    Thankfully we have an organization like BEST to safeguard and protect what little remains of our environment that so badly needs it .
    However , I’m sure that certain people (wink , wink , nudge , nudge) will say it was payback for the totally undeserved , and dare I say , racist remark regardless of it being a decision made on point of law.

    • Cradle to Grave says:

      Too bad the Department of Sustainable Development was abolished. They did good work including impact proposals.

    • Cradle to Grave says:

      Too bad the Department of Sustainable Development was abolished. They did good work including impact reports for government projects.

  4. aceboy says:

    We might see the People’s Campaign marching again!

    The Col is going to throw all his toys out of the pram after this.

    The Chief Justice is Anti Bermudian! Lol!

  5. Jerry says:

    we are in a democracy not a communist society some politicians need to know the difference

    • Joe says:

      oh really, how much of a democracy is it when the UK is going to force Same sex marriage on us and allow UK citizens residing in Bermuda to not only vote but run for office. I dont recall there being a vote on it.

      • Anbu says:

        Hey joe. In case u never noticed. Britain technically owns us. Dont like it? Leave. Dont like gays? Leave. They r here to stay. What u expect england to do besides flex their muscles. This inept gov tried and failed to flex theirs. The courts have decided and u just have to take it. Again i say. Dont like it? Leave. Doubt u will be missed

      • LaV says:


        Dont like it? Leave. Doubt u will be missed

      • Joe Bloggs says:

        What is your basis for saying that the UK will force anything on us? An opinion from a committee that has not been considered by the UK Parliament let alone adopted as policy?

        You might as well complain about the EU threatening to tax Bermuda business because someone in Brussels said it was a good idea!

  6. Trump supporter says:

    And the walls are starting to tumble down.
    Wait to the challenge for leadership comes. It’s on the horizon.

  7. That new chief justice is here for ONE reason only. He was appointed by the CURRENT governor, deliberately against the P.L.P. wishes.

    • SayItAintSo says:

      Hate to say it… he is enforcing the current laws.

    • Jt says:

      And what’s the reason? You didn’t say.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      That Chief Justice has been here most of his life and was widely considered to be be the best advocat in Bermuda before being appointed Chief Justice. Would you prefer a lesser person as Chief Justice?

    • sandgrownan says:

      LOL, Burch will be pouting and sulking today. He’ll be a more foul mood than usual.

    • comfortably numb says:

      598 -2 . Presumably you are one of the two in favour of the ATV’s?

    • wahoo says:

      He is here to safeguard the majority and uphold the law. Nobody wanted the ATVs but the minister said he did not care about the wishes of the majority and decided to ignore the law. The chief Justice probably has better things to do but finds himself having to explain the obvious to the oblivious.

    • Anbu says:

      Good. Burch and rolfe wanna talk ish about him then serves them right. I hope he digs it in as far as he can. Seems everyone outside of west has a say afterall huh? Lmao. Good

  8. Rocky5 says:

    Pick your battles folks. PLP Govt will just change the laws so ATVs are legal…..

    • TJ says:

      They are legal; it’s the lack of consultation with planning and other bodies, that is the problem.

    • Dread says:

      Couldn’t av said it any better!

    • sage says:

      Why shouldn’t they be street legal? Ride to the protected areas, park and walk around, then re-mount and off to the next spot.

  9. Question says:

    We have the rule of law here whereby everyone must be treated equally according to law. That is what civilization is. The government is not above the law. Thank goodness for the courts. The judiciary is the one thing we can trust.

  10. Rickshaw was the original idea…good training for footballers and runners and joggers , a good ballanced rickshaw is like a trampoline and requires nothing more than an enjoyable jog to operate.You can afford a rickshaw too.
    Donkey drawn carts.
    Electric golf carts .
    There is a jobstight segway with knobby tires (runs all day).

  11. Maureen Marshall says:

    Thank you very nuch, Mr. Hargun. Great news!

  12. Not blind says:

    Everybody needs to follow the same rules which are set for everybody’s benefit . When a person seems to be above all others and circumvent the set guidelines then ALL the checks and balances do not work. You eliminate all I repeat all others. Meaning shut up everybody I know more . With much power becomes much responsibility. Often power to do is taken as a THIEF without the responsibility.

  13. Mark says:

    Pee L Pee’s Peepole Campaign lead by that miscreant Onion Juice will be marching over this affront to their friends and family plan.

  14. Concerned Bermudian says:

    Now pay us back our money that you used to fight this despite so many protesting against it. Pay us back!!! With interest!!!

  15. Just Say No says:

    Undoubtedly Col will start the name calling soon enough and a couple hundred more people will leave.

  16. Joe says:

    I wish they would have approached the SSM error in law the same way, but I guess it only matters on whos agenda it is.

    • LaV says:

      Joe, the only error made was allowing your mother to carry you for the full term.

  17. Stand For Truth says:

    The criminal injustice system is not rooted in justice. It was implemented by them for them and the Chief Justice is the gatekeeper of the injustice system.

  18. Y-Gurl says:

    Cracks again showing in the freinds and family program, do some walking tours, far more beneficial, thank goodness someone’s still looking out for the overall impact to our island

  19. Bda idiots says:

    You’d all better hope this man didnt already start to invest big money into buying the atvs and other necessities because tell you what if it was me i’d sue the government cause im gonna need my money back. You think you’ve won as of now but if he has invested and decides to sue the government what the f@#k have you won,because you as the tax payers will be giving him his money back lol