Government to spend $6M from environment fund

| 31/05/2016 | 14 Comments
Cayman News Service

Ghost orchid in the Ironwood Forest in George Town

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government will spend more than $6 million from the Environmental Protection Fund to buy land to set aside for protection and conservation of the country’s endangered habitats and species. But it will also be spending $1 million from that same fund to remove tyres from the landfills in both Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac to be used by developers as fill for private sector projects, a move that is out of step with the Department of Environment’s recommendations on how the fund, which now stands as at around $58 million, should be spent.

In his budget address, Finance minister Marco Archer said that $6 million of the capital investments in his 18-month budget for 2016/17 will be drawn from the specially designated fund to buy land for conservation, while Premier Alden McLaughlin revealed in his statement that over a million of the EPF will be spent removing and shredding tyres for developers.

“Cabinet has already approved funding for the contract for the removal and shredding of the hundreds of thousands of old tyres at the landfill in George Town and Cayman Brac,” McLaughlin said. “The shredded tyres will be recycled for use by two local companies as what is called tyre-derived aggregate. Once gone, the area taken up by the tyres will be used as a composting site for organic matter, further reducing the trash that goes into the landfill.”

However, the premier also pointed to other planned uses of money from the EPF that were more in line with the intended purpose of the fund, as he noted how dependent the local tourism sector is on “our pristine environment, our clear emerald waters and our powder white sandy beaches that draw visitors to our shores day after day, year after year.”

There are a number of unique and indigenous species in Cayman that are under threat, including the Cayman parrot and the silver thatch tree, both national symbols, as well as the extremely rare ghost orchid and blue iguana.

To protect them government will need to protect habitats that incorporate various eco-systems that give rise to some of Cayman’s rare flora and fauna. Buying the land where threatened species are still found will not necessarily be enough to ensure the survival of specific animals or plants if interlinked habitats are not preserved.

While Archer said that government would be investing over $6 million in land for conservation purposes, he did not say if the money for the tyre shredding is included in that allocation.

The much-needed enhancement of the islands’ marine parks was not mentioned by the finance minister in his budget address, the governor in her throne speech, or the premier in his statement.

At a recent National Conservation Council meeting the members agreed they would write to the environment minister to ask where Cabinet was on its approval of the new proposals, which will see Cayman build on its successful marine protection. The original marine parks were fundamental in helping to conserve what Cayman has left of its marine environment, but over the three decades since their establishment the threats have increased.

In order to try and fend off the mounting threats of coastal development, coral bleaching and other climate change problems as well as over fishing, all of which are taking their toll on the marine habitat, conservation experts believe that Cayman must act now to create additional protections.

During his address McLaughlin revealed that the Department of Environment will be hosting the 69th Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute Conference in November this year, with the theme “Fishing for fun, food and the future: fitting recreational fisheries into Marine Protected Areas management”.
With around 250 people from countries throughout the region and beyond expected to attend, the premier said it would be an opportunity for the Cayman Islands to “showcase its pristine environment and prove that we care for all that is above and below the water”.
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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (14)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Just so we don’t use the money to buy mac a sexy new overcoat, I’m fine with the allocation.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t they use the money to lease or buy swampland in the central mangrove? It would help a lot of people in the Eastern Districts.

  3. Fiona Foster says:

    How many times have we heard/read the words: Cayman MUST ACT NOW. It’s already too late.

  4. Anonymous says:

    don’t we already pay tyre disposal fees when we buy new tyres? Why are they taking money from other budgets for this?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Can the tires not be sold to the 2 local companies as ‘tyre-derived aggregate’ or do they get it free?

  6. IRONY 101 says:

    PPM going against its own policies and national environmental law ROFLOL

  7. Anonymous says:

    There is nothing wrong with any government in Cayman spending money from that Fund to remove tyres to improve the environment. It is a relevant use of “environment” money.

    • Jotnar says:

      That’s not what the legislation establishing the fund says.

      • SSM345 says:

        Correct Jotnar, I believe another MLA’s defense team recently argued that if its not written in black and white, then you use other Funds for other purposes, but if it is written in black and white, you can’t.

      • Anonymous says:

        True but it needs to be changed as it is another of our poorly written laws.

  8. The decision to spend a million dollars to remove the tyres in the gt land fill is a best a stupid decision.Can someone please enlighten the public how and when this will be done?Most if not all of those tyres were paid for by the driving public and surely sending them off island should be a simple matter to deal with with all the empty containers that go back to the USA weekly.Someone would be happy to take them off at the other end if time was spent to find an interested party especially if there was no cost to that party.

    • Anonymous says:

      From my personal consumer experience, I can tell you that Kirk Line/Seaboard and Tropical don’t load, tailgate, insure, or ship anything for free. Spinning those props over multiple ocean voyages involves complex logistics and money.

    • Big Brown says:

      From my understanding if it was this simple it would have been done ages ago. Don’t you read the news. Several tenders have been put out for the removal of the tyres. There have been no takers.

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