239 Real Estate Development Projects under Investigation for Environmental Violations
In recent weeks the local and international press has written about the role of the Costa Rican Environmental Tribunal Court in protecting the Costa Rican environment by aggressively standing up to reckless development projects which violate Costa Rican Environmental Laws.
What is the Environmental Tribunal Court ? The Environmental Tribunal Court (Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo) is part of the Costa Rican Ministry of the Environment (Minae) but under the law it is a fully independent Administrative Court which is required by law to enforce Costa Rican Environmental laws and protect the Natural Resources of Costa Rica.
When the boom in Costa Rican real estate development started in 2005 it caught the Costa Rican government by surprise and they were not prepared for the onslaught of development projects that were being built and promoted for sale outside of Costa Rica. Oversight for many of those projects was the responsibility of the local Costa Rican Municipal Government which had jurisdiction over the area where each project was located. These local governments had no experience in planned development, were inept and in some cases corrupt.
As a result many real estate developments took this as a “free pass” to do as they pleased and many did just that. They destroyed local forests, contaminated local beaches, overburdened natural resources and behaved with complete disrespect for the Costa Rican Environment.
Fast forward to 2008 and the Environmental Tribunal Court has stepped in do the job which the local Municipal governments have long failed to do – Control reckless development.
The Environmental Tribunal Court initiated sweeps mostly in the coastal development areas and just in 2008 has opened 239 case files which have resulted in 40 projects being sanctioned or under further investigation. The most recent sweep was carried out from the 7th to the 11th of July of 2008 in the Southern Zone area of Domincal, Osa and Sierpe.
Among the most common violations found are destruction of mountains by illegal road grading, cutting forest trees without any planning, altering or blocking the natural ground water flow or springs and creeks, destruction of mangroves, building without construction permits.
For obvious reasons not everybody is happy with the actions being taken by the Environmental Tribunal Court. Some of its judges have received death threats and their offices have been broken into in apparent attempt to locate and destroy files.
The main attraction for those that want to reside in Costa Rica is its natural beauty. Those that destroy and alter that natural beauty of Costa Rica are putting the future value of Costa Rican property in jeopardy. Buyers in Costa Rican property should send a clear message to those that do not respect the Costa Rican environmental laws by not purchasing property in those projects. After all the reckless developer only builds it if you as a consumer buy it.