NCC stands firm on EIA for 7MB

| 12/06/2017 | 60 Comments

(CNS): The National Conservation Council and the Department of Environment are standing by their advice that government require an environmental impact assessment before it allows the Dart Group to dig up Grand Cayman’s famous Seven Mile Beach. With the National Conservation Law under threat, a new environment minister who has no track record on environmental protection and a ministry councillor who is on record opposing the law, the NCC and the DoE are facing an uncertain time, However, they said that they are not bending to pressure and that they “are unapologetically insistent” on the need for independent analysis before rock is removed.

One of Dart’s network of companies is seeking to rip up 1225 linear feet of beach in the Seven Mile Beach Marine Park area to remove beachrock in preparation for another five-star resort. 

In an open letter, NCC Chairperson Christine Rose-Smyth said the NCC and the DoE have recommended that an EIA is conducted, not only because of the threat to biological and coastal resources but also because it could “endanger the sustainability of the vital tourism pillar of our economy”.

Erroneous and unfounded allegations have been made against the conservation council by politicians, some of whom now sit on the government benches, as well as the editorial board of The Cayman Compass and other community leaders, that the NCC has been wielding unchecked power and imposing burdensome rules and regulations. 

However, since August last year when the relevant part of the law was implemented, the DoE and NCC have reviewed 368 project applications and given 94% the go-ahead without an EIA. In some cases, instead of an EIA the DoE advises how to maintain habitat and biodiversity.

NCC only recommended refusal in 2% of applications; others were deferred for non-environmental reasons.

Rose-Smyth said that an EIA was recommended in just six projects, which was 1.6% of the applications, five of which involve road corridors through sensitive primary habitat that had no strategic assessment of actual need.

“It should be abundantly clear that the EIA procedure is invoked sparingly, and only when the NCC and DoE agree that there are such significant gaps, in either the technical information available for the assessment of potential impacts or in the technical expertise available, that additional studies and assessment are required,” she wrote.

Given the workload an EIA creates for the DoE as well as the applicant, the council does not recommend such action frivolously and the goal is not to stop a project but to ensure the need for it and, if it is needed, to mitigate environmental damage.

“lt must always be remembered that an EIA does not make the decision on a project; it is a tool that assists decision makers in making fair, technically sound, transparent and robust decisions, weighing the adverse environmental effects against other considerations such as societal benefits, employment and other economic opportunities,” she explained.

Hitting back in particular at criticism regarding Dart’s proposed hotel project on Seven Mile Beach, Rose-Smyth noted that a trial removal of beach rock was approved by Cabinet against the recommendation of the NCC.

She pointed out that the proposed removal of the rock is in Cayman’s largest marine protected area and the requirement to undertake an EIA is enshrined in the legally binding Environment Charter between the UK and the Cayman Islands that was signed in 2001.

One of the major parts of an EIA is also the public consultation process. Darts goal to dig up the beach is controversial and opposed by many people who indirectly own the beach.

“The EIA Directive implements this undertaking by providing for two separate opportunities for public input regarding the possible impacts, both positive and negative, of a proposal. ln the beach rock removal case this is doubly important as it is ultimately public property …that is at stake,” she said.

See full letter in the CNS Library

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Category: Land Habitat, Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (60)

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  1. I admit to near total ignorance about plotting an orbital launch, performing brain surgery and many other things… but I do know enough about wave action, coastal dynamics and our marine life to know that an EIA, the matter in question right now, is truly necessary in this case. Much could go wrong, even for the developer, if the rock that currently saps wave energy, trapping the sand in its lee were to be removed. I would expect the shoreline to recede significantly as a result. I could list a litany of other concerns as well, but the biggest one (apart from erosion) is the fact that this ledge is a rookery for reef fish and lobsters in the midst of our marine park. With no barrier reef on the west coast, this is as close as we have here to a shallow water nursery in the immediate area. Please require the EIA! Get the opinion of real experts in coastal engineering and marine biology before granting removal. That is what our Conservation Council and DOE are advising. Take their advice. They are our best local experts on the matter.




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  2. Anonymous says:

    Yes, Cayman’s economy will collapse if Mr.Dart is not allowed to play Russian roulette with Mother Nature and build another friggin hotel. Are you people nuts or just plain stupid?




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  3. SSM345 says:

    If DART is allowed to remove this, I would expect a clause in the contract that they have to replace and maintain the beach for life should any sand disappear, because it will.




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  4. Anonymous says:

    WHAT THE WHAT.Please give an example of a Dart project that has not benefited the Island economy, gotten done on time, and looks good. I think the problem is the locals realize that Dart is and does what they should be and should do, but lack the here to for to accomplish.
    To carry others Jealousy is the burden of the successful.




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    • Anonymous says:

      What a ridiculous statement. I think you are jealous of Dennis Rodman because he artfully tattooed his face and is now making peace with the North Koreans…..and you’re not.




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  5. Anonymous says:

    Want sand ? Add a parrot fish farm at the Turtle centre. Release on a yearly basis. I ask my Grandfather why don’t we build a house on the beach? “He said sand come and sand go”




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    • Anonymous says:

      I used to live in a mainland Coastal town in Europe…sometimes there was beach, sometimes not..sometimes it disappeared for years, and then it came back.




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  6. Kimberly says:

    Dart means dollars, dollars means progress for the government, with progress comes the damnation of this country and with the damnation of this country we loose self and our children. Kids in the street shooting up homes now?




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  7. I have left two messages for Jackie Doak(CEO of Dart Real Estate)asking her(them)to compromise by leaving the beach the way it is after they took out that small test piece.Just clean that up and leave it at that.Of course no response from her to this suggestion but I stand by what I have asked as to remove all of this area COULD have a detrimental effect on this particular piece of the 7 mile beach.That rock is there for a reason and to remove all of it COULD have a serious affect on the sand in that area and its best to err on the side of caution as apposed to just moving ahead as once its done there is NO going back. Its a shame that to hold Cayman hostage by saying no removal no hotel is not the way to conduct business.Take the hotel plans to another part of Cayman Lots of places going East.Its going to be very interesting to see how we are going to “FILL”all these hotel rooms that are already built now much less dealing with at least what 3 more on the books now?Spread things out a bit as 7 mile beach is TOO much like Miami Beach now. Time will tell in the long run but can we afford to take that chance if things turn out to be wrong?




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    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you Mr. Milburn for standing up!




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    • Anonymous says:

      Why is there no going back? Surely if the beach started to shift after the rock removal an artificial reef or reef balls could be installed the same way they did at the Marriott?




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      • Anonymous says:

        The Marriott reef balls, etc., have all failed. Even the extra Sand that Govt. put there at great public expense (because the Developers sure weren’t going to do it for ‘their’ beach) has been washing away over time. – The moral? Don’t build on the beach, set back, and leave the natural system (in this case the ledges protecting the beach) alone.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Peter, Dart and Jackie told/wrote to DoE confirming that the hotel development WAS NOT dependent on the beachrock removal.




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    • Anonymous says:

      May the force be with you Peter! Too many people here are jaded by so called progression, I call it maladaptation. What Dart is doing is not in the best interest of our environment and is definitely not sustainable.




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    • Chad says:

      Dig and build 7 mile beach needs it Cayman needs it were too late to stop what already been sold




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    • Jotnar says:

      Peter

      you are entitled to be opposed to the removal of the beach rock, but its a bit much for you to then say he shouldn’t make the hotel build conditional, and lecture Dart on where he should build the hotel because he is “holding Cayman hostage”. Its his money at risk after all, not yours. If he thinks its not a viable business model to build it without the beach rock removed that’s his choice.




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  8. Anonymous says:

    Great backdoor payment will find it itself into the right hands…corrupt ppl run the country #facts why can’t the guest from the newly proposed hotel walk a mere 1000 or so feet to get too the better parts of the beach one would think that’s a more logical solution other than potentially destroying seven mile beach.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Because they are very important 7 star people and that 100 feet of walking takes time. Time that they could be devoting to saving humanity.




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  9. Anonymous says:

    Compass says that Dart has planted more trees than any other human being. Well I do know this for sure – his family is responsible for more styrofoam pollution than any other human being.




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    • Anonymous says:

      That makes as much sense as saying “Ford or toyota are responsible for all the auto wreaks”. Shheesh




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    • Anonymous says:

      He’s cut down about a million times more than he has planted too!




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    • Anonymous says:

      Hello. Johnny Appleseed.




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    • Anonymous says:

      How much mangrove trees has he destroyed in comparison. How many mangroves has he replanted. I’ll go out on alimb
      and say none.




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    • Can you imagine how much more useful it would be if Dart and the Government were both planting edible fruit trees, mangoes, pear, nays-berry, plum, orange, lemon, lime, etc… as often as practical instead of decorative trees? At least our Government should stop spending so much of our money on inedible trees. Minuscule cost difference, huge societal bonus. Please give it some thought!




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  10. Anonymous says:

    Folks there are five places along 7 mile beach that has this type of rock formation and the surf always break offshore in front of all of them. So if we removed the rock formation what will disperse the surf coming to shore. This has been a habitat for small fish for a long time now. Plus that is not the developers property it is CROWN land. We have a say in this country not only the political people that has all the say. If they approved that we should have all of them step down immediately.




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  11. Anonymous says:

    Here’s an interesting proposition. Why don’t we see what the EIA says? NCC says an EIA is required and Dart says they will do the EIA. The National Conservation Law is in place and the process is being followed. Has the NCC said Dart is refusing to follow the process? No. Has Dart said it is refusing the follow the process? No. So let the process, which is laid out in the Law, proceed.




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    • Rhett says:

      Have Dart do the EIA? Have a cat guard the cream….




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      • Anonymous says:

        Exactly! We need a genuinely genuine EIA!!!




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      • Anonymous says:

        At least Dart would get it done.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Having the applicant, Dart in this case, “do” the EIA is NOT what the National Conservation Law says. The law says the applicant shall pay for the EIA but the study is overseen by the DOE and an independent consultant. So let’s follow the law and see where it takes us.




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    • Anonymous says:

      A comment was made to the effect that we Caymanians were so keen on protecting the rocks. Another comments was why we weren’t equally concerned about protecting every God given shrub and tree. These posts are intended to insult and belittle Caymanians but they are exposing their own ignorance. If they haven’t undestood the reasons for our concern I won’t try to enlighten them. I only hope they will stop trying to stir up trouble especially about something they know nothing about.




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  12. Anonymous says:

    Captain Planet, where are you!?




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  13. Anonymous says:

    Solution:
    DART and the hotel company should launch a public awareness social media campaign alerting all future guests of their plans to destroy part of Cayman’s nature to “enhance their experience” and maximise profits.

    In these supposed environmental times I’d be very interested to see the reaction.

    If the survery yields a favourable reaction, then they get the green light.

    That way we’ll know what’s really what when it comes to these issues. So far, it has been one ridiculously mixed bag of activism which tends to be guided by the ratio of annoyance to local concerns.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Those rocks are are located within the legal high water marcation established line,and therefore belong to the people of the Cayman Islands.The citizens have the right to preserve them, as do the property owners to remove you from hotel property on the land side of the high water marks. Keep our rocks, they are one of the the very few
      things that we have left that is our God given birth right “HOLD FAST”




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      • Anonymous says:

        And ganja grows here too, so does that belong to the people? If so I would like to see a dividend payment quick..




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    • Anonymous says:

      No 12.18, that’s not a solution. It’s unadulterated stupidity which will never see the light of day and I have to wonder why you even bothered.




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  14. Anonymous says:

    money makes the world go around and dart has plenty of it? so what the fuss all about? government gonna do what he wants anyways!😂




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  15. Anonymous says:

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it should be. If there will really be little impact, then no-one involved should object to it.




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  16. Sharkey says:

    I wonder how Dart would intend to fix the bottom and shoreline, if after he remove that beach rock. I think that should be a big problem in matching that to what mother nature has done in other places around the Islands.

    If he leaves a shallow hard surface I think that it’s would cause beach erosion in a simple northwester, then iam not sure what would happen in a hurricane.

    I would tell Dart if his dad didn’t tell him, if it’s not broken don’t try to fix it.




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  17. Anonymous says:

    Just an opinion… If the NCC is so adamant on an EIA being carried out on SMB for this project which I am personally against as well. Maybe they need to go ahead and pay for the EIA from that $40 million reserve they have for Environmental Protection as this falls right in line with that. This way the study gets done before this messed up and money hungry government gets the time to do away with the NCC and shake things up to the way they and Dart want it to be. We are losing out island so slowly and we just elected a government willing and waiting to ruin things a little bit more to suit the greedy backers they have.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for your opinion but first: the Law follows the internationally accepted practice that the proponent pays. Kinda like the principle that polluter pays for clean up. Secondly, the NCL states that the Fund is first of all for acquisition and management of protected areas.

      Thirdly, NCC does not control the Fund. Of course, Cabinet and Finance Committee does.




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  18. Anonymous says:

    The Cabinet can overrule the NCC anyway. Same Cabinet that insists on grinding up marine park and our top snorkeling location for an unworkable Billion dollar deep sea cruise port. Beauty fades but stupid is forever.




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  19. Anonymous says:

    Dig your a$$ if you want to dig something up, this is the main reason for beach erosion.




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  20. C'Mon Now! says:

    Can’t we just say no to the removal of the beach rock. A good % of the world is now eco-conscious and that is the direction we are moving in. We don’t know for sure what the impact will be but it will take years to really tell and there is a high probability that this might not be a good thing for the shoreline along that stretch.

    What about the Go East initiative, is there not a single 300ft stretch of beach somewhere else on the island that doesn’t have rock in the way?

    If they still want to build the hotel there to take advantage of the location just deal with the rocks. No other developer would have the audacity to even consider this.

    What is the next precedent complete removal of ironshore and imported sand if there is another large plot somewhere that might be good for a hotel?

    We have to decide what type of country/destination we want to be.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Perfectly said. Thank you.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Personally, I love that particular part of 7 mile beach. It is home to many tiny fish and creatures that are just beautiful.

      It’s a wonderful place for infant children to play with their families and it should be preserved as there is nothing else like it on 7 mile beach. It is unique and should be kept.

      Please don’t allow Dart to dig it up.




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    • Rhett says:

      Dart purchased Barefoot Beach up on Queen’s Highway, EE a recent couple of years ago…the next project after this 7 Mile one? ‘His’ roads up there should be completed prior to his Groundbreaking.




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    • Anonymous says:

      “What is the next precedent complete removal of ironshore and imported sand” has been done already. Just look at Casa Luna, and any number of other attempts along South Church St.




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