The Navy announced Tuesday that it has ended efforts to develop outlying landing field (OLF) sites in Virginia and North Carolina. This is a great victory for Citizens Against OLF, the grassroots group that has been battling to save the Sandbanks region from the threat of OLF-related environmental damage and community displacement since 2007.
The Navy announced in April of 2008 that it was putting the Sandbanks site on its list of potential sites for an OLF. The OLF would have replaced a facility located in Virginia Beach, which was the subject of lawsuits between local residents and the Navy for some years. In addition to the environmental impacts, the placement of an OLF in Gates County would displace at least 166 households, including over 16 century farms. Citizens Against OLF in Gates County has been working since 2007 to lobby the Navy to have their community removed from the list of potential sites and gained support from organizations and elected officials across N.C.
“This was like an early Christmas present” said Sandbanks resident Linda Warren. “It has been incredibly difficult for people to make plans when they didn’t know if they would lose their homes.”
“Our community really pulled together and opposed the OLF” said Sandbanks resident Elaine Herring. “We are so thankful to the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Duke University’s Environmental Law and Policy Clinic for all the hours they spent working on this case.”
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) attended meetings and public hearings in our regions, as well as in our state and national capitals. SCSJ provided guidance in relation the media, organizing our community and region, and the politics of the issue. SCSJ’s legal advice was extremely helpful.
Duke University’s Environmental Law and Policy Clinic provided a Citizen’s EIS and assisted our community in defending the area’s diverse habitats. The Clinic also provided support by attending meetings with government officials and working with local citizens.