Environment still not on CPA agenda

| 29/02/2016 | 16 Comments
Cayman News Service

Area behind the Ritz-Carlton where mangroves were ripped out to make way for the Dragon Bay development that never happened

(CNS): The Central Planning Authority is still not giving environmental considerations equal weight when making decisions about development, despite recommendations made by the Office of the Auditor General and the impending implementation of the final part of the conservation law. The director of the Department of Environment, Gina Ebanks-Petrie, told the Public Accounts Committee last week that she had seen no marked improvement in the way the technical reports sent to the CPA were treated. While conservation issues are not completely ignored, the she made it clear that they were at the bottom of the list in CPA decisions.

Asked if anything had changed since the report was published last June, she said, “I would have to say I have not noticed any change … It is still pretty much the status quo.”

The OAG’s critical report, National Land Development and Government Real Property, regarding the complete failure of government to manage crown and national land as well as broader development issues, the auditors had highlighted the scant regard the CPA has historically given to the information submitted by the DoE and the lack of consideration for conservation.

In its response to the report’s criticisms, the CPA had claimed that they did not always give due consideration to DoE reports because the formats they were presented in were inadequate. But Ebanks-Petrie confirmed that at no time has anyone from the CPA or the planning department told her or her staff that there was a problem with the reports or how they wanted them presented. She also pointed out that while she has offered to send staff from her office to explain their reports, the CPA has rarely taken up the offer.

“I wholly reject the notion that the DoE’s input to the CPA is inadequate,” she said. “We have never been provided with a template for the reviews we provide to them.”

She said no one from planning has ever said that they had a problem or that the information given is inadequate. Ebanks-Petrie told the PAC that the CPA rarely has any dialogue with the DoE over the submissions. Asked what the process should be regarding the DoE input, Ebanks-Petrie said that the CPA would benefit from having a representative at their meetings to answer questions and explain the reports.

Alarmed by the figures in the report about the significant loss of wetlands in Grand Cayman, particularly in the western part of the island, PAC member Winston Connolly asked what was left as a result of the ad hoc decision-making that had undermined conservation.

Ebanks-Petrie send there were almost no mangroves left along the Seven Mile Beach corridor because they currently have no particular protection. She said the zoned areas for mangrove buffer in the development plan had been largely ignored.

“There is an imperative in the development and planning law that the CPA give consideration to the environmental contribution of mangroves and not just the storm protection functions when giving permission for them to be transgressed in any way.”

Despite the law stating that it should only be in exceptional circumstance that buffers can be transgressed, the interpretation of “exceptional circumstances” does not appear anywhere and the CPA members can use their discretion on how they view it case by case, which, she said, had contributed to the continual erosion of the mangrove buffer. With the National Conservation Law, she said, there was now an opportunity to consider protecting the species, which could help preserve the remaining mangrove.

She said the part of the NCL (Section 7) which requires the CPA to consider or explain why it has not considered environmental concerns is not yet in effect but once commenced the requirement was “pretty clear” that the CPA must take account of the National Conservation Council.

PAC Chairman Ezzard Miller pointed out that, at present, the CPA does not believe the law requires them to consider environmental advice as he pointed to examples where advise from the DoE as well as the Water Authority was ignored regarding canals.

Related story: Private sector managing Cayman’s development

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

Comments (16)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Lets make the whole Island a marine park. Oh I forgot it just about all is.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The comments on this thread need to be brought to the attention of any Grand Court judge dealing with litigation involving the Tempura matter. It is clear that there are enemies of Cayman who do not consider themselves bound by the laws of the land.

  3. Here we go again says:

    Dont worry KT will sort it out for us….NOT!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Everyday it’s the same thing: Government Department Fails To Do Basic Things It Is Meant To Do; Nobody To Blame, No Chance Of Improvement.

    You could literally appoint cats and dogs to the CIG and they would be equally productive, about $1b a year cheaper and a lot more interesting.

  5. Anonymous says:

    but we are caymankind……etc….zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  6. Anonymous says:

    It is important the the environment be taken into account in all areas of development. Not just stuff that Goes through planning. for example Dart is now looking to dig rock out of 7 mile beach to make it more “amenable” for their latest proposed Hotel. They have asked government to by pass coastal works permission and other formalities to get stared right away. ( before the public knows about it?) Why can the public not be a part of these “Dart” decisions.Why is the National Conservation Council not a part of this decision?

    This could prove more damaging to Seven Mile beach than any other development even proposed the people do not even know about it yet. And, most likely,will not until the equipment is already at work. They went to PMM saying they need to start right away and to waive anything that might stop it before it even becomes Public knowledge. Not the way to run a country, PPM.

  7. Anonymous says:

    When all time is spent looking like your doing something but nothing gets done then they can feel like they have done the job that the Caymanian people hired them to.

  8. Sunrise says:

    A local can’t fish from the shore line, but a developer can be given the green light to destroy some of the most valuable environment to help protect and sustain the ecosystem. I sure as heck do not see any sense in this!! Oh wait, now I do, it is all about the money!!! When will our representatives grow something on them, that will make them real leaders!!! I hang my head in shame to see what our forefathers built, being destroyed by greed. Thank God, I do not trust in the leadership of men but by God’s wisdom only.

  9. Shirley Smart says:

    It’s business as usual: Money talks and BS walks, or…….. The money flies while the environment dies. Greedy, greedy, greedy!

  10. Anonymous says:

    NCL Part 7 section 41, in fact. And the NCC issued the initial guidance in 2014.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately section 41 is not yet in Force it is found in Part 7 of the Law, only Parts 1 to 6, section 50; and Schedules 1, 2, 3 and 4. are in force, Sections 1 to 6 and Schedule 2 came into force on 12th September 2014 and Parts 1 to 6 Section 50 and Schedules 1, 3 and 4 came in to force on 25th April 2015

  11. Anonymous says:

    Now if we are talking about a money making cash grabbing corruption infested environment, that is top of the priority list every time! And screw everyone else including our future!

  12. Anonymous says:

    and Easter Camping weekend is on the horizon……get ready beaches more trash to come your way. Bet CIG has absolutely no plan to prepare for the amount of trash that will be left on the beaches by the campers.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Great job Progressives

  14. Anonymous says:

    Political appointees on cpa with conflicts of interests will not do anything or abide by any reports that will negatively impact their interests. Thanks PPM for becoming just like the UDP and reappointing all these clowns this is the same as “the fox watching the hen house” even after you were told by the Auditor General about the issues.

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