Law paves way for environment priorities

| 15/08/2016 | 6 Comments
Cayman News Service

DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie, Environment Minister Wayne Panton and NCC Chair Christine-Rose Smyth

(CNS): The last two crucial parts of the National Conservation Law came into effect on Monday when the environment minister announced its implementation, which will finally see environmental considerations given lawful weight in government decision-making. With the commencement of Parts 5 and 7, critical public agencies and entities, such as the Central Planning Authority, are now lawfully obligated to weigh the impact of development on the environment as much as they currently consider socio-economic or safety issues before making decisions.

Speaking at a press conference, Environment Minister Wayne Panton explained that, going forward, government entities or relevant agencies will not be bound by the recommendations made by National Conservation Council on environmental matters but they will need to consult and consider the NCC input.

“The advice the NCC will give is not mandatory but it elevates the consideration of environment to same level as safety or other considerations,” the minister said, as he explained that the public body tasked with making decisions will still do so but the environment must be taken into account first.

The law was passed in the Legislative Assembly in December 2013 following what the environmental minister said was a more than decade-long conversation about the need for conservation legislation but an absence of action.

Over the last two and a half years the law has commenced on an incremental basis, as much work was required to enable it to work. With the exception of two very small sub-sections relating to the Environmental Protection Fund, as a result of a need to clarify the language, the rest of the law is now in force.

As well as the full commencement, the regulations and the new regime in relation to licences and permits previously dealt with by the Marine Conservation Board are now in effect.

Panton said it had been a long road to get to the full commencement but it was a “positive and significant step for us as a country”. He noted that with no mineral resources or manufacturing sector, Cayman’s environment was its main national asset and part of the national psyche and it deserved responsible protection.

Much of the legislation is not new. Some is transferred from the old marine protection laws and other parts implemented today were already being followed. Director of the Department of Environment Gina Ebanks-Petrie, who said she was delighted by the commencement, explained that comprehensive guidance notes were issued to government entities over a year ago to prepare them for how and when they should be considering the environment. All of the information is publicly available on the DoE website.

Although there is still much work to do, Ebanks-Petrie, the minster and NCC Chair Christine-Rose Smyth, who said the NCC would now be turning its attention to species conservation plans, were all clearly pleased to see the results of what has been at times a controversial and difficult process to get the law properly commenced.

But Ebanks Petrie warned that the legislation is not a panacea for the local environment and there are challenges ahead.

Check back to CNS later for details on how the public can help to ensure that the law works as intended to help conserve the country’s precious natural resources.

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Category: Land Habitat, Laws, Marine Environment, Politics, Science & Nature

Comments (6)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations Mr Panton. You have kept your promise to the people and brought into force legislation that has been in the works for over ten years. Thank you for standing up for our environment, rising above the personalities/politics, and being a true statesman.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Globalist syncophants disconnected from reality.

    • Anonymous says:

      Truly pathetic comment

    • Anonymous says:

      The laws should encompass and include any/ all government agencies/ entities. Why should any law be for me and not for you. Just hope that Planning will not need glasses to see the environmental destruction that they approve for some and disaaprove for the little man.

      • Anonymous says:

        It is always the little man they will apply their strict new laws to and make life impossible and developers will get the exceptions !!! ” we are all equal but some are more equal than others ” soon I will have to ask permission whether I can cut down a tree I planted – on my own land !! Incredible !!

  3. Anonymous says:

    “…government entities or relevant agencies will not be bound by the recommendations made by National Conservation Council on environmental matters but they will need to consult and consider the NCC input”. How is this any different from the status quo of requesting and disregarding recommendations? Look no further than the composition of the NCC!

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