In Summary

In the ruling, the court said it could not find any evidence that the company’s activities violated the right to a clean healthy environment

Kampala

Bidco Uganda Ltd has been cleared of charges of environmental breach, offering relief to the company that has suffered claims that it was involved in deforestation

High Court yesterday cleared Bidco against claims of deforestation in Kalangala District.

The public interest case filed by three environmental groups alleged that Bidco coerced government through the National Forestry Authority to de-gazette forest reserves on Bugala Island for growing palm oil. However, court rejected this claim.

“The defendants have never asked government of Uganda to de-gazette any forest reserve as claimed in the plaint,” Justice Wilson Kwesiga said in his ruling yesterday.
He added: “None of the defendants (Bidco) have entered or cleared any forest reserve and claims to the contrary are false.”

In the ruling, Court said it could not find any evidence that the company’s activities violated the right to a clean healthy environment.

“The plaintiff should have further produced evidence to establish that growing of palm trees would be harmful to clean and healthy environment,” Justice Kwesiga said.

Court ruled that the lawsuit was unnecessary and the environmental groups could have searched for the truth by contacting the company.

Mr Martin Lugambwa, the chairman of the Kalangala Oil Palm Growers Association, welcomed the ruling.
“This is great news. We shall continue to enjoy the palm oil fruits with our families,” Mr Lugambwa said.

Mr Nelson Basalidde, the general manager of the Palm Growers Trust, echoed the sentiment. “Court has validated what we have always said. The forest reserves on the island are intact. There have been four separate environmental impact assessments. I think we need to focus on the remarkable transformation that is happening in the lives of small holder farmers and the economic impact on the island,” he said.

Bidco Uganda Ltd managing director, Mr Kodey Rao, who testified during the trial, also lauded the ruling. “This project has gone out of its way to maintain the environment and transform the community. The small holder farmers are happy. Kalangala has become a beacon for progress. We thank the court for making the truth known,” Mr Rao said..

Bidco Uganda managing director Kodey Rao who testified during the trial also lauded the ruling.

“This project has gone out of its way to maintain the environment and transform the community. The small holder farmers are happy and the community is happy. Kalangala has become a beacon for progress. We thank the court for making the truth known.”