EIA needed for beachrock removal

| 23/03/2017 | 80 Comments

(CNS): The Dart subsidiary wanting to dig up over 1,200 feet of beachrock from Seven Mile Beach must carry out a comprehensive environmental impact assessment before technical experts will offer advice on the issue to Cabinet. The National Conservation Council has voted in favour of recommending that Cabinet request an EIA before considering the coastal works application because of the significant adverse impacts this could have that were raised by the Department of Environment in their screening of the application to tear up the famous beach.

Several weeks ago Dart completed a test excavation at the site to remove a sample of the rock, which has already caused significant public concerns, but now the islands’ biggest investor wants the green light from government to rip out over 8,000 cubic yards of rock from the water’s edge.

Presenting her department’s findings on the issue so far at the NCC’s March meeting, DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie outlined a catalogue of preliminary concerns and the potential negative and adverse consequences for the marine environment.

The NCC heard that Crymble Landholdings Ltd, one of the Dart Group’s many companies which owns the land on Seven Mile Beach North of the Kimpton hotel, has now made a coastal works application to Cabinet to dig up around 1,225 linear feet of submerged rock and peat covering around 8,410 cubic yards of Grand Cayman’s famous beach. The justification is to make the area safe to swim and to replenish the sand, as the developer wants to build another luxury hotel in the area.

But even in the absence of a full EIA, Ebanks-Petrie and the NCC chair highlighted some serious concerns about this unprecedented and worrying environmental threat.

A primary concern raised by the DoE is that the developer has made it clear that the rock removal is linked to the full development of a hotel but no planning application has been made for that. The director pointed out that the planned excavation of the beach should really be viewed in the context of the entire project and not in isolation.

But focusing on the potential removal of the rock in a marine park ad protected area, Ebanks-Petrie said it would account for almost a third of all beachrock along Seven Mile Beach. Therefore, the national implications and the magnitude of this on the complex coastal process and its irreversible nature all indicated that an EIA must be carried out before a decision could be made.

“Beachrock represents a unique habitat with environmental and cultural attributes,” she said, noting that it is home to an “array of fish and coral not typically present in the purely sandy areas of Seven Mile Beach”.

Far from being benign lifeless rock, beachrock is an eco-system of natural and culture interest and has considerable bio-diversity she explained. Around 40 different species of fish have been counted in the area and the diversity of marine creatures ranges from large parrot fish and fries to corals and sponges. The beach is also a turtle nesting site, so the DoE believes that a detailed eco-assessment is going to be needed as part of wider EIA.

The cultural value as a fishing and snorkelling site is also very important, as is its economic value to tourism and recreation. All of this means the EIA should include a full public consultation, Ebanks-Petrie said. With potentially high irreversible risk by the proposed removal, she emphasised the need for a comprehensive EIA to also evaluate the impact on the entire beach system and the role that beachrock plays.

Beachrock can come and go but this rock has always been there, she noted.

Not only is there obvious historical references, aerial images seen by the DoE going back to the 196o’s demonstrate that this is not ephemeral. This also implies that even if it is removed, the rock could begin to reform since, in the absence of technical and geological studies, the cause of the rock formation is unknown.

The NCC was particularly concerned with the precedent-setting nature of the application if it were granted on the country’s most famous beach, where there have been strict protections for many years and where no construction or interference with the beach has been allowed.

See ‘Screening Opinion for Proposed Removal of Beachrock, Seven Mile Beach’ document on the CNS Library here

See all documents for the NCC March meeting here

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Category: development, Local News, Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (80)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m amazed the government is even considering this reckless and dangerous application. A real estate company proposing to dig up what mother nature has caused to be present to provide a swimming area? My goodness, it’s so risky it defies all reason, and for what? Can this real estate company’s “scientific report” absolutely guarantee 100% digging up the shoreline will not precipitate an irreversible disaster for SMB? And is it the case (really) that Cayman’s tourist industry will collapse without this additional hotel? The audacity appalls me.Playing Russian roulette with mother nature to enable one hotel’s guests a nice dip and enrich the already wealthy. It’s unhinged.

  2. Anonymous says:

    My goodness. There is a application process that allows for such applications to be lodged and now there is a law and a review process that vets such applications. Let the process do its job and see what the science of the EIA says about all this. If you want to absolutely prohibit the lodging of such an application, change the law and close the door. In the meantime, the amateur drivel, name-calling and hype is a waste of time.

    • DA WA YA GET says:

      The smoke and mirrors of this supposed ‘due process’ is not to be trusted, as history has shown quite plainly already what is really going on at the highest levels of governmental maladministration. All that is necessary is a very simple HELL NO.

  3. Sharkey says:

    About the idea of putting back a reef/ wall after the beach rock has been removed , like they did at Tortuga beach in East end . These two locations are completely different , one is on the windward side of the Island with a natural reef that breaks most common weather . The other is located on the leeward side of the Island with no protection from weather /winds that would cause the erosion of the beach if the rocks are removed.

    Don’t ask me why mother nature decided to put the rocks there , and none in the other parts of the 7 mile beach that doesn’t . I know for 60 years that the rocks has been a protective barrier against erosion of beach in those areas , and the other parts of the beach didn’t need it protection . But you go messing with mother nature you’ll learn .

  4. Sharkey says:

    The person who thinks that Cayman should have a population of 250,000 , surly must be a off spring of the one who wants to destroy the beach and the Islands. You should stay in your crab hole .

  5. Anonymous says:

    250,000 people is not a lot of people. Back in the 60’s people never thought it would go past 20,000. Today we have up to 20,000 people staying in hotels and Condos. We can have as many as 20,000 in a day from Cruise ship passengers with the local population that takes us over 100,000 people as it is. Yet if you go East there is hardly any traffic going or coming from the East.When more people come to the Island it will drop the cost of living . We will have more choice just like any other country. Lower rents will be able to work because more customers. Large investments can be made . Imagine 50-100 apts and all the amenities that they would be able to offer. smaller grocery stores open all night, bakeries downstairs from your apt. Get your nails done on the first floor. So many more advantages. Going up higher and higher we would start to see more business with lower priced accommodations.
    When we look at a little Island like NY ( Manhattan) its only 22 sq. miles. They can have 8,000,000 in a day . I guess you know there are a large population of West Indians that love NYC. So much food to choose from and cheap. I guess they don’t miss warm breezes and clear sea water. But irregardless its the future , we can’t stop it .So plan for the inevitable.

  6. DA WA YA GET says:

    BOYCOTT DART. Rescind any and all banking secrecy laws including the opacity of beneficial ownership laws for any and all MLA’s and/or prospective candidates in order to shine the sanitizing qualities of daylight upon the litany of conflicts of interest and far worse therein. Demand the introduction, implementation and enforcement of anti monopoly/anti trust laws in Cayman forthwith in order to take a step towards the present day and future well being of the Cayman Islands and her people, save for those who are blinded and at once guided by a self serving greed for their own sociopathic and myopic agendas. BOYCOTT DART FOR THE GOOD OF AND THE WELL BEING OF THE CAYMAN ISLANDS.

    • Anonymous says:

      Boycott overpriced duck eggs!

      • DA WA YA GET aka JJTA says:

        As you wish. You have no idea what it costs to produce them in the first place for a small outfit such as mine. If anything I am operating on straight up passion at this point and in this regard. You can black ball me all you want as you will only steel my resolve and the experience is nothing new to me as a consequence of speaking out vociferously. It is something which I already know all too well.

        Go on ahead, as you know who I am, I fear you not nor do I fear exposure. I could not give a rat’s hairy little bottom if you state my full name for all and sundry to see. What I fear is the consequences of this malarkey continuing unchallenged and those responsible continuing to be held unaccountable for their vile transgressions against the Cayman Islands, her people and the collective present day and future well being of the country. The ball is now in your court bo bo.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your a goner as the big boys are in the court of the master so that’s it. It is to late now for all you fools.

    • Anonymous says:

      Better off boycotting the supermarkets. Oh, we can’t, can we? That’s the true test of a cartel.

    • DA WA YA GET says:

      Go on ahead geniuses, support institutionalized corruption to the very hilt. Good luck with that. You can kill the messenger but not the truth.

      • Anonymous K.O. says:

        Straight up. But the sheeple never can and never are supposed to see. They will perish in the end due to having eyeballs with ZERO vision

  7. Unison says:

    What happens if you remove these rocks and the sea eats away the shoreline right up to the hotel’s doorstep. Excuse the exaggeration :)) but these rocks were put there for a reason. You remove them, you may cause erosion of the shoreline

  8. J. Christ says:

    You’re quite crude, Rock On. I’m putting you on my watch list.

  9. SSM345 says:

    If the remove this bedrock then there will be no beach once the hotel is built, that’s if they actually build it after watching all the sand disappear not only from this part of SMB, but the rest as well.

    Mess with Mother Nature and she will bite you in the ass two-fold.

    Do not allow this to happen because there will be no turning back once its removed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why is there no turning back? Marriott rescued their beach with the artificial reef that was put in place. Why can’t an artificial reef be put in place further out after the rock is removed?

      • Anonymous says:

        You shouldn’t need to put in artificial reefs. The Cayman Islands should be able to benefit from the beautiful, natural hand they were dealt. But, like a woman born naturally beautiful and told by people she could be better, Grand Cayman in particular is selling herself out to cheap plastic fixes which will not make her more beautiful, but will gradually make her look cheap and tawdry.

      • Kadafe says:

        Very good point!

      • Anonymous says:

        Marriott did not rescue their beach. Their beach had to be replaced. (By government, at significant expense.) Marriott is a categorical failure and an excellent example of why you shouldn’t be allowed to build on sand. Their ‘artificial reef’ is a waste of money and effort as a beach stabilization tool.

        • Anonymous says:

          It was the wall the lady up the beach built that pulled the sand from the front of the Marriott, it had nothing to do with where their property was built.

      • SSM345 says:

        I was part of the team that put in the artificial reef at Marriott and have personally sat down with the DART to ask them why they are not following suit… they could not give me a answer.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Here is a comprehensive environmental impact assessment right here for you, stop digging up the marine lifes natural habitat that sustains and shelters it’s inhabitants.

    Our marine life will be more than greatful for our continued effort to protect and preserve what is needed for a healthy ecosystem and it’ll benefit us a lot more in the long run than some dumb hotel can ever do.

    • Anonymous says:

      Those ledges, yes ledges, have been there since time began. For generations of Caymanians they were a source of food,and a nursery for an untold number of marine species. They serve as a divide between sandy beaches so that there is suficient sand to maintain those stretches.
      Remove those “beach rock” and brace yourselves for the erosion and other dire
      consequences that will be a direct result.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Money is God and Dart is the pope and you all is about to lose your beach… and your self respect.

    • DA WA YA GET says:

      I still have mine. Those who say they care about any of this yet still patronize and do business with Camana Bay and/or any of the other spider’s web of Dart businesses and establishments do not. Those who do not care never had any in the first place, that is why the situation is what it is today.

  12. Rock On! says:

    Gina should be careful what she wishes for. The economic value to tourism and recreation of what they are proposing will undoubtedly dwarf any figures she can pull out of her rear end in relation to this all of a sudden “culturally relevant” location.

  13. Anonymous says:

    That beach rock has probably been there for hundreds of years if not longer. Look at the natural sway of the beach. That rock holds hundreds of feet to the north and south in place from the currents not to mention the thousand or so feet behind it. Remove it and there will be significant in irreparable beach loss on a massive scale. Then there will be nasty sea walls built at the waters edge trying to mitigate the loss. A bit of diversity on the beach is a good thing. Mini Florida with everything perfectly man made is not. Don’t forget what happened in Ivan right at that area. Leave the beach alone or suffer mother natures wrath.

  14. Anonymous says:

    They dug a hole in the middle of it. Let hotel guests go through there. All you have to do is look at the aerial photos to see that the beach will immediately recede at least 40 feet if the rock is removed. This has been a good beachcombing andsnorkling spot since at least the 70’s when I first stayed nearby. No rock removal and no seawall.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The rock was there before they bought the land, same as the dump was there before they built the school and the camana bay development…..they have plenty of room elsewhere to build another hotel that will stay empty half the year and also cause all the other hotels to lose occupancy….stop the nonsense, they’ve got enough now…they can build a big hotel on the britannia hyatt they bought…also on the other side of the kimpton (south side) also in all the lands inside camana bay..also whatever they own in rum point area also in breakers or barkers or salt creek or downtown georgetown or how about on the old man dart’s house itself….come on…stop this constant falling for the greenback, there’s a legit objection to removing this beach rock…..if there wasn’t, who cares…but there is, and the so called ‘environmentally conscious’ (who made their money in styrofoam!!) know it.

    • Anonymous says:

      And the golf course (Britannia) was there before Dart bought that land and now they want to take that away too. Enough is enough!

  16. Anonymous says:

    I ask my father when I was a younger person, “Dad we own beach why don’t we build a house like the foreigners do ?” He said ,” Sand come and sand go”. I believe and have proven over and over that same quote. We don’t control the movement of sand.
    So Dart you have my vote get rid of that unsightly and unsafe rock. Add another hotel we need more development . We need about 250,000 people living in Grand Cayman so that our cost of living can go down.

    • Anonymous says:

      Where you planning to put 250K people? Good night marine life if we ever get that many people living here!

    • Anonymous says:

      2:30 You are either an idiot or a carefully programmed and gullible puppet of master Dart.

      • Francis Bacon says:

        250K people on Grand? Certainly qualifies as an idiot……… and almost certainly as a troll for the Vulture.

    • Anonymous says:

      Of course, you are joking? 1 hour in traffic for 4 miles during school is a royal pain in the boostabunga.
      Let’s look on the bright side. A new language is being birthed in our wonderful islands, “Patalog”.

    • Anonymous says:

      My humble opinion is if government or the people don’t march to stop him, we are going to see another incident like the West Bay road closure. Caymanians must take a stand a stop this vulture from smothering us.
      In the near future we will not be able to go to the beach, because the owners are trying to run us off of it. The government that made the change from the vegetaion to the higher water mark, should’ve been tarred and feathered. Stop changing and adjusting for the rich and depressing the poor.

    • Fun bring bun says:

      I hope you’re not registered to vote.

    • Bill Holden says:


    • Anonymous says:

      Good God your mentality is beyond scary!

      Tell me oh enlightened one, WTF we going do with 250,000 people on 24 miles of an island!!!!!!!

      You see the traffic congestion we have on a daily basis? And that’s with less than 100,000 people!

      You have any idea what Cayman would really be like with a population that size?

      I can tell you what, cost of living would be the least of our problems as crime and other things would sky-rocket!

      “Unsightly and unsafe rock” – really! I guess beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

      I always found that area to be quite peaceful and if you take a few minutes of your time one evening to watch the marine life swim in and out of there; it’s worth keeping because some things are worth preserving.

    • Michel says:

      250,000 more. Really ??? Pretty silly comment is my opinion. You can’t be from here.

    • DA WA YA GET says:

      So says the McWeevilite ninkompoop who supports that which a one legged donkey would offer better serve the well being of the Cayman Islands and her people. That is unless you are just another fake and a charlatan masking about as someone else in order to fulfill your puppet master’s propagandized agenda.

  17. Anonymous says:

    It is very easy. THE ANSWER IS NO!

  18. SKEPTICAL says:

    Good. Seven Mile Beach is fundamentally unstable and it is very likely that removal of that much “solid” material would have a serious impact elsewhere. Any replacement sand would just be washed away. The rock has been there for over 50 years, and was created by natural forces, and has not been altered by seas caused by hurricanes, nor the most violent of any traditional Nor’Westers
    Remember the beach loss behind the Marriott. For many years it was 100 feet deep – I know because I lived on an adjacent property. Why did it suddenly disappear, after property development began, immediately to the North?

    • DA WA YA GET says:

      It was the Radisson when that happened, I worked there at the time. I spoke with Brian Butler and tried to talk to him about the physics and dynamics of beach accretion and erosion when they were clearing the land and I saw him there. He did not listen and just laughed with derision. He did not care, he still does not, never did and probably never will for all I know because we have not spoken since then. I told him that it would happen because of the placement of the sea wall, and it did. There are many more who are exactly like him. Now those like him have far more influence than they ever deserved and the cause and effect will continue as a result.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Thank God someone has sense. Fingers crossed our beach will remain.

  20. Unison says:

    CNS news: “The justification is to make the area safe to swim and to replenish the sand, AS THE DEVELOP WANTS TO BUILD ANOTHER LUXURY HOTEL in the area … ”

    Wow! Like … how much clustering cathe beach take! :/ I hate to spoil these rich people’s profiteer endeavors – But that means for the Almighty Dollar, we Caymanians will experience a MORE CROWDED public beach! :/

    Just for that reason alone, folks, I would say go ahead with the EIA. I will do anything to maintain and upkeep the peaceful and quiet environment of our beaches. If this goes ahead, we will be squeezed off our beaches by tourists! :/

    • Anonymous says:

      Been to,the public beach recently…?
      So many foreign unlicensed higglers plying their trade, as well as hassling tourists.
      May as well be in Jamaica as we are rapidly losing the ability to enjoy our beach in peace.

      • Anonymous says:

        Who knew you could get a foot massage for $5 at public beach, I call that progress! I especially love the handmade cardboard sign. I forgot to ask if her T&B was up to date.

  21. Anonymous says:

    SSM345 You okay with Dart digging up the beach? Thought so!

    • SSM345 says:

      1:25, Not at all but you would only need to ask me that to my face since you think you know me rather than assuming under you anonymity on CNS.

  22. DA WA YA GET says:

    And in other news; Cayman needs it’s head examined for allowing Dart to step foot in and/or on the Cayman Islands in the first place.

    • Bill Holden says:

      I second that!

    • Anonymous says:

      DA WA YA GET … I could not agree with you more. This is nothing short of treason against Caymanians. McKeeva should be (you fill it in) for bringing this DART to Cayman, in a sly and cunning move under the cover of darkness. I do not know who else in Cayman knew this dirty deal was taking place, but I for one did not. However I do believe that PPM fully well knew but keep their mouths shut. You all could have fight this atrocity for us as it is your job to do what is right for us and to relay to us what is taking place, as we really do have any way of knowing what back door deals are taking place – we depend on you, we put you there for good governance.

      Please look at the beaches around the world, there are many. many beaches around the world in prime locations (sandals, beaches etc etc) where I have personally seen beach rocks, ledges etc., and they enhanced and protected, not destroy. Any removal of this rock will be disastrous. Ms Ebanks you need to get out of your office and check out the entire shoreline of Cayman and see for yourself what is taking place. Sand and rock is constantly being removed and it is already having devastating affect on our beaches ….. please go and take a look for yourself……. before its too late. Thank you.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Everything needs and EIA and then it is just being ignored. If you ask for an EIA, you should take note if the EIR is not favorable and not keep delaying and getting further EIAs until it can be spun into a favorable version for the developer.

  24. Anonymous says:

    People, please wake up. This is 2017, not 1987. In 1987, you could say this and people would actually believe you, but today, we know that money has spoken and execution will occur on the basis of that fact.
    The rich will get richer and poor folk will get some jobs for a short while.

  25. Anonymous says:

    For the avoidance of doubt, we should all understand that green-lighting this will give legal precedent to further marine park beach-rock excavation everywhere in the territory. That includes: all of Seven Mile Beach from Boggy Sands south to George Town, the Dart-owned Barkers area, the Dart-owned Little Cayman assets, etc. The footprint at issue is much much much bigger than 1200 feet.

    • Anonymous says:

      It will only be a precedent if the Darts own the land.

    • Anonymous says:

      Excellent point..and further it can be noted that this precedence would not only apply to Dart properties in the country, but for developers all around the islands. To point: review the advertisements for the long-delayed Rum Point Club Condominiums that declares “300 ft. of pristine beach,” while about 225 ft. of the ocean frontage is ironshore. Is the developer presuming that the ironshore may be removed??? Precedence! AND, as with the thankfully aborted East End Seaport, a notation that any effect would be “minimal” is concerning…one man’s minimal may be another man’s disaster. While I do believe that the Dart commitment to the islands is strong and, overall, has been positive, the dangers and concerns here (and all around our islands) outweigh positive consideration of this request. Thank you.

  26. I thought it was illegal to fish in the area where the rock is being considered for removal on Seven Mile Beach. Isn’t it a marine conservation area in that area?

    • DA WA YA GET says:

      No, fishing from the shoreline is permitted as is casting net for fry and sprat.

      • Anonymous says:

        Permitted with a license – which is never enforced … great job DOE

        • DA WA YA GET says:

          There is no liscence needed at all, I do not know where you are getting your information. If you are talking about non Caymanians needing a liscence, that was nullified when a judge said it was against ‘human rights’ to do so.

          • Anonymous says:

            A license is required. The judge was wrong and ignored a number of issues including cultural elements. The law is simply not enforced, but hey, what’s new there?

            • Anonymous says:

              The Law is no longer on the books. (Because the judge ‘questioned’ it, the Government looked at it and felt it was against human rights, i.e., unenforceable, so it was taken off the books.)

            • DA WA YA GET says:

              I agree with you that the simple fact of the matter is that there is supposed to be a liscence required for non Caymanians and that when the judge, who is now long gone, made her ill conceived ruling that she was wrong. Cayman needs 24/7 365 waterborne, even handed enforcement of our marine parks and the ancestral fishing grounds of our collectively beloved waters. Over fishing is but a fractional contributor to the whole which is the cause and effect of the degradation and destruction of our marine ecosystems. That is not an excuse for the poachers, many of whom are not even remotely Caymanian. That is not to say that it is not a significant contributor to the issue, especially with a burgeoning population who are increasingly going to be looking to the wild for sustenance in the absence of an equitable economy and the presence of imported poverty along with stagnant wages and a bloated and predatory cost of living. There is a lot of hypocrisy and disingenuity coming from those who wish to ignore that fact in the name of a myopic and self serving greed and/or wallowing in a morass of ignorance. A prime example would be XXXXX talking idiocy about you cannot eat ‘seagrass salad’ and ‘mangrove burgers’..

  27. Anonymous says:

    Who ever started this better watch out as they will be getting let go! Daddy gets what Daddy wants and the beach rock is going – going – gone!

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