NCC concerned over cruise port process

| 24/11/2015 | 27 Comments
Cayman News Service

George Town Harbour, Grand Cayman

(CNS): The National Conservation Council (NCC) has raised a number of concerns surrounding how government is handling the proposed development of cruise berthing facilities in the George Town Harbour in two public statements that have now been released to the media. While Premier Alden McLaughlin and Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell have been boasting about the PPM government’s adherence to the process and good governance, the NCC has pointed to serious conflicts and questions marks with the process as well as threats to the marine environment.

The NCC said that the proposed mitigation measures regarding the serious threat to the marine life from the project do not “pass muster” when it comes to international standards. Although the council members welcomed the government’s announcement that it is reviewing the plans to see if the piers could be built in deeper water and a solution “that best adheres to the standard”, it said it was still concerned about a number of issues that have emerged so far.

The NCC pointed out that the international standards on environmental impact assessments indicated that contractors who have worked on or will work on the terms of reference, the environmental impact assessment, engineering and related evaluations should not be accepted as tenderers in the procurement phase, if the project proceeds to that stage.

They pointed to other conflicts. Without directly stating the issues regarding the port board and the family connections with the tourism minister, the NCC stated, “Ensuring integrity of government decisions focuses on whether public officials’ private interests in the matter could improperly influence performance of official duties and obligations. The obvious aspects of this rule have been aired in other fora.”

The NCC also questioned the role of the tourism ministry in pushing for the project and pointed out that it is an inappropriate agency to be making certain evaluations.

“Not only should no man be a judge in his own cause, but with a proposal such as that with which the Cayman Islands are now faced, where the government is cast not only in the role of evaluator but also as a joint proponent in a proposed public private partnership, the question of impaired objectivity must be raised,” the NCC said.

“The incomplete draft of a Preliminary Scoping of Possible Mitigation Measures document, released by the Ministry of Tourism on October 1, admits that Department of Environment was not consulted in its preparation,” the NCC added and raised concerns about the tourism ministry acting as the government proponent as well as as both investigator and adjudicator on the environmental issues.

“It is important that the ministry should not, and be seen not to, interfere with or pre-empt the evaluation function of the Environmental Assessment Board,” the NCC warned.

“It is the National Conservation Council’s opinion that adherence to good environmental governance policies must be maintained,” the council said in the statements. “This includes continued regard for the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources Performance Standards adopted by the terms of reference for this Environmental Impact Assessment.”

The issue of the separately commissioned seabed habitat survey, which conflicts with the findings of the EIA was another concern for the NCC, which said the EIA had identified the risk to the George Town Harbour Marine Park ecosystem to be so adverse that its conservation status is not sustainable.

They questioned if avoidance had been properly analysed and ruled out, whether the accepted mitigation hierarchy was being followed, if the ecosystems approach was being used to ensure mitigation in the footprint as well as adjacent areas, how coral translocation could possibly result in no-net loss, and the creation of an ecologically equivalent ecosystem and associated biodiversity values.

In the two complex statements the NCC questioned how the whole process had been handled and the government’s approach to the massive threat posed by the project, as they try to put the brakes on what a significant number of people in Cayman believe is a step too far in order to enrich a limited number of tourism stakeholders at the expense of the wider community.

NCC EIA Good Governance, 18 Nov 2015

NCC EIA Performance Standards, 18 Nov 2015

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Category: Government oversight, Marine Environment, Politics, Science & Nature

Comments (27)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Please. Sometimes posters prove their ignorance and lack of understanding and make such fools of themselves by making asinine comments such as this one. And just to prove the point a whole hoard of equally ignorant and misunderstanding Kirkbots jump on the bandwagon to show themselves up too – classic!

    All the coral reef being destroyed and you think it has nothing to do with conservation? ROTFLMAO

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ll go out on a limb here and say that you declaring that “all the coral reef” will be destroyed is the main issue everyone has with Save Cayman. Overblown hysteria over one 500ft by 500 foot chunk of coral that is in front of a cargo and cruise port.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hard to talk about good governance when the Minister driving the dock is hopelessly conflicted. I am sorry but just saying “I am not conflicted” is not an answer.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Kirkbots put in a quick but plentiful appearance again!

  4. Pedro Gonzales says:


  5. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t the environmental consultation period over and done with? We’re on to the financing and development of the project. DOE had their time, they don’t like that it’s over but it is.

    • Anonymous says:

      No you just don’t like the fact that the wool that they’re trying pull over people’s eyes is see through.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Shouldn’t the conservation board be concerned with, well conservation? All of a sudden now they think they are the attorney general?

  7. Revelations 3:45 says:

    The PPM want praise for their attempts at transparency yet the entire process is rife with conflicts and abuses at multiple levels from the Ministry, Steering Committee and Port Authority Board of Directors. One should not expect credit for being transparent and complying with laws like the FFR.

    If the NCC can see the potential abuse of process and raise its concerns why hasn’t the PPM Caucus, Cabinet, Auditor General’s Office, Governor’s Office and FCO not expressed similar concerns about the entire process thus far?

    What next will the PPM and Ministry officials require credit for turning up to work which they are contractually obligated and paid to do?

    • Anonymous says:

      What conflicts…/ are you still childishly harping on the fact that there is a store in town with the same name as the deputy premier…? Who owns all the other businesses…?
      You want conflicts…look back at the various attempts by MacKeeva to sell us to the Chinese.
      We have at last an honest government doing an open book project badly needed by our economy and you’re still moanig.

      • ALL SEEING EYE says:

        “There are none so deaf as those that will not hear. None so blind as those that will not see.”

      • Anonymous says:

        We can probably all agree that a previous Cabinet made a bad deal with the FCCA a few years back which contractually saddled the CI gov’t, and more accurately, the CI Port, with a big concession on the cruise ship tender fees to pay for the comparatively thin upgrades to Royal Watler. Now we, Cayman, find ourselves stuck subsidizing the landing of passengers. Somehow, consequently, despite all the port fees we all pay on substantially all incoming goods, the Port consistently lost piles of cash [$4mln in 2012, $2.6mln in 2013, $800k in 2014], on the Board sits the same surnames as store in town and first cousins with their man in the LA. If the only way to stop paying tender subsidy is to stop landing passengers that way, then maybe we should ask those on the Board of the CI Port how ALL the port revenue from ALL the imported goods to this island, can be offset by a $1 per passenger cruise tender subsidy? Are these the guys we entrust our finances to?

    • Anonymous says:

      Was this same conflict you are implying was going on when Makeeva was about to start this same port in 2012 ? Was he a family of the Kirks and was it his Kirk family influencing him to build the port. It’s time you guys stop the BS about Mose, it does sound childish.

  8. Anonymous says:

    In the end someone has to make a judgment call in a world of conflicting interests, less than perfect information, and uncertain predictions of the furture. That’s what the legislature and the government is for. Obviously the NCC would exercise its judgment based on only one side of the picture. That is why they should not, and I hope do not, have the final say.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dredging is a definite. Nothing uncertain about the water turbidity impacts. There are are a wide variety of known problems outlined in every unread report (since before the PEIA) and are being entirely disregarded by your fearless collective. The problem is that the LA is not known for reading their own reports, or comprehending the content even if they did – that’s where smart caring people are supposed to put up their hand and say, “hold on a second”.

      • Anonymous says:

        Even if they do read the reports, they do not understand them and twist facts into fiction to suit their purposes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wrong judgment call

  9. Anonymous says:

    Adherence to good governance would include the Director of Environment (who is also a key member of the NCL) advising Cabinet as required and letting them mage a decision, and not doing articles against the proposed project for various media. Yet they want to complain about tourism releasing information.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Let them make a decision” to incur an additional $300mln in debt servicing arrangements based on prior mutual agreement and without consideration of the concurrent negative degradation and disregarding all other material facts, technology, and proposals. Ie. the usual corrupt cronyism method which shuns business cases and any other impacts. Negligence on this scale will not just effect the next regime in 2017, this error will resonate for the next 25 election cycles. Bring it Kirkbots.

    • Anonymous says:

      9.47 usual boring tactics, someone says something really relevant and damning about the whole pro port process and conflicts of interest therein, and you just have to try and diss it (badly, by the way) because you have no counter argument. How does the National Conservation Council have a conflict of interest? It does not, it is doing precisely what it should do, however you just want inconvenient truths brushed under the table for your own money lust. The whole of Cayman first, not just the very few pro-porters with their kirkbots.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Thank you NCC keep up the good work

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