Trust and CPR taking port battle to court

| 13/11/2019 | 78 Comments
Cayman News Service
Cruise ship and tender in Grand Cayman

(CNS): Both the National Trust for the Cayman Islands and campaigners behind the petition for a referendum on the cruise port have sent formal legal letters to the government warning of their intention to take legal action. Both the Trust and the Cruise Port Referendum group are seeking a postponement of the referendum until environmental work is complete and problems with the law that paves the way for the national vote are addressed. In two separate actions the non-profit organisations said government is breach of the Cayman Constitution and the people’s rights.

The executive director of the National Trust, Nadia Hardie, stated in her letter warning government of the NPO’s plans to seek a judicial review, that the Trust’s own law requires it to protect Cayman’s environment and cultural heritage, such as the wrecks that are at risk in the Harbour. As a result the Trust is seeking government’s agreement to defer the vote and put the project on hold until the full range of environmental work needed to inform this development is completed and published.

Meanwhile, CPR is largely concerned with the Referendum Law, the question and the date, as well as the missing campaign finance provision in the legislation that has enabled the government’s use public funds for its pro-project campaign. The campaigners said they will be seeking a judicial review about the legislation passed by government, which has led to a catalogue pf problems with this vote.

They pointed to the disenfranchisement of new voters, the date which deliberately suppresses voter turnout, a bias in the question, as well as the inclusion of the cargo dock expansion, which was never part of the petition, and the fact that there is not enough time for the CPR campaigners to prepare observers for the poll, among many other concerns.

The Trust is giving government until close of business on 20 November to agree to deferring the vote to prevent its legal action. But the CPR, which is seeking considerable detail from government about the chain of events over how the legislation was arrived at, asked for a response by 15 November before it files legal action.

The two separate actions are seeking similar outcomes, which is to delay the vote until critical issues are addressed. The actions also support each other on the environmental issues, which remain fundamental to the opposition to the proposed project.

The Trust made it very clear that an environmental impact assessment and all of the necessary studies on the long-term viability of moving the reefs, relocating and regenerating coral and the studies regarding the relocation of the Balboa and the Cali wrecks are all critical before government commits to the project and before the people are asked to vote on it.

Hardie said that the Trust had taken legal advice that it has the standing to take the legal action based on the its own legislation as well as under section 18 of the Cayman Islands Constitution, which provides for environmental rights.

The Trust pointed out that in order for government to press ahead with this project, it must, under its own National Conservation Law, conduct the necessary environmental work. But none of these studies are expected to even start until well into next year, after the proposed referendum date.

The director said government should not be making any decisions about a project of this nature without this necessary environmental work and the voters cannot make an informed decision without the information such studies would reveal. “Any decision in principle taken by CIG to proceed with the cruise berthing project in the absence of all relevant environmental information would be invalid,” Hardie wrote.

Meanwhile, in a much longer explanation of their legal case, the CPR group accused government of frustrating the people’s constitutional rights regarding this vote. They are concerned, they said, that the laws relating to the poll were arrived at illegally and are in themselves unlawful and unfair.

The group urged the ruling administration to defer the vote to enable a fair and free environment where voters are presented with accurate and balanced information, as well as the environmental reports and surveys before they go to the polls to answer a balanced fair question about the cruise project, as requested by the original petition signed by more than 25% of the electorate.

See both letters in the CNS Library

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Comments (78)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I say we all have our vote the 19th. Then we can get on with our port already and hush these trouble makers. Unless the trust and cpr is planning to keep food on my table ill be voting yes. P.S. get a life

  2. Anonymous says:

    It is heartbreaking to me that the elected members of our government do not give a rat’s butt about the people who elected them or the country they are sworn to protect. This port is unnecessary. If built it will destroy all that the Caymans have to offer guests and, heaven forbid, their own people. Vote “NO” and put these dictators in their place!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why go to court? All of the voters will have the right to voice their position via the referendum.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because a lot of us are being stopped from voting for a start, make it fair and allow all people to vote who are registered.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you are registered why can’t you vote????

        • Anonymous says:

          More than 200 Caymanians have registered and have been told they have no right to vote by the elections office.

          • Anonymous says:

            They can’t vote because they registered late and missed the cut off date. There has to be a cut off date for elections and the same rule applies to this referendum.This is to allow the elections office time to prepare ballot papers and send out postal ballots in time to get them back by the time of the election/referendum. If there is no cut off date then we could have voters registering on election day and they are not on the voters list.It is a non starter for CPR to try delaying on this point. What is also against them is the fact that they have been asking Cabinet to call the referendum as soon as possible after they gathered enough signatures. and now suddenly when it suits them they want to slow down the process.Obviously CPR is trying to run the show and dictate terms which is unconstitutional and is the responsibility of Cabinet.Not surprising though after all in August last year they told us that they were almost at the target of 25% of registered voters when in fact it took until August of this year. They also wanted to dictate to Government that they should not sign any contracts because they were trying to get enough signatures to trigger a referendum.Wrong they can’t do that…. no way Government can stop doing business or shutdown on the chance that someone might take some sort of action. Afterall it might take a year or two or simply fall away. when you trigger the referendum then you can ask that Govt delay in signing any contracts; but before that it’s just wishful thinking.Looks like when it comes to CPR they want it their way or no way. What I really worry about is what they will do if they lose the case or the vote.

            • Anonymous says:

              They didn’t register “late”. Of course there has to be a cut off date. But you have the sequence wrong. Government selected the date knowing that those 200+ voters would not be eligible for a December vote but would be for a January vote.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you are registered to vote then you can. If you are ineligible to vote then that’s a different matter

        • Jotnar says:

          Actually that’s completely wrong. 200+ young Caymanians are registered to vote but will be unable to vote on December 19th ( but would be eligible in January). But as young Caymanians are more likely to be against the port, and a pre Christmas vote is likely to reduce turnout ( with every no show counting a s a vote for) the government doesn’t want to wait. Rather put those young Caymanians trying to exercise their democratic rights into the same category as expats. Nice.

      • Anonymous says:

        Postal ballots aren’t even getting to people. It isn’t actually a level playing field.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because you will be voting without all of the information, particularly the updated EIA and Business Case.

      If someone asked you to buy an apartment, and could tell you how much it was going to cost and how much you could rent it for, three years ago, before they changed the design, but wanted you to sign now to pay whatever cost the apartment was going to be evaluated at six months from now (and then figure out how much you could rent it for), would you sign now or wait six months and decide when you knew the true cost of the apartment?

      • Anonymous says:

        I do not want an ‘apartment’ in any way shape or form.
        NO to the port in any way shape or form and get the cargo dock OUT of GT!

    • Anonymous says:

      Better wait on that new EIA; how can you vote yes if you don’t even know the consequences. That’s irresponsible.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The only means to stop this madness is by Voting NO on December 19.

    Government has the cash war chest of the people to use against us the people and the one who has the most money wins.. We can only win by voting NO.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Everything about this port smells of corruption and underhand tactics. I might have considered it if the process was transparent and I thought there was a genuine reason behind it. But I don’t. And there isn’t. SO I VOTE NO!

  6. Anonymous says:

    The Cruise Ships are still coming, whether there is a port or not.
    Ergo (I have word of the day toilet paper), there is no need for this development.
    There may be a want for it, but i want wings and night vision, yet i am aware i may have to wait and put my needs (food, water, shelter) above those wants for now.
    I urge the spectacularly inept CIG to raise their heads out of the trough for once and look to the needs, not the wants.
    Thank you.

  7. Anonymous says:

    11/11 – 8:08. Minorities being? Caymanians.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Thank God the Trust has stepped in; this madness of carrying out a project of this magnitude without an updated EIA is insane.
    And we need an INDEPENDENT one too; not one provided by Verdant who is building the port. With all this money involved you really think they would say something negative about it?

    • Anonymous says:

      Could it be that Verdant is just a front for the “Got to have our big money making port group”?

  9. Anonymous says:

    “Venice, a city of canals, is especially vulnerable to rising sea levels but plans for a flood protection barrier have been beset by rising costs and corruption.”

  10. Anonymous says:

    Third limb of these actions needs to be a referendum for the Constitutional changes. In all the heat generated by these announcements light needs to be laser-focused on any attempts to allow a politicians-only agreement to grant greater powers to politicians.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hi there. Voting no here.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Good luck. If you don’t think the government has employed the best legal team to make sure this is bullet proof you have another thing coming.

    • Anonymous says:

      oh well, government has plenty money to spend on legal teams because we paying for it. You think if the politicians were using their money they would even consider mounting a defense.

      • Anonymous says:

        I absolutely hate when someone says “Oh, well, an interjection used to express acquiescence or resignation towards an undesirable event which has occurred.

      • Anonymous says:



        • BeaumontZodecloun says:

          Do you buy goods/fuel/groceries here in the Cayman Islands? Do you pay duties on incoming packages? I do.

          Government doesn’t have any inherent money. It all comes from us. OUR MONEY (and my caps lock isn’t stuck).

          • Anonymous says:

            Beaumont it is yours only until you pay it to Government.Once you have paid it over it is no longer yours , in the same way that your money is no longer your money once you have paid it to the bank, or the supermarket or Gas station.

            • Jotnar says:

              Except you give you’re money to the store and you get something in return. You give it to the government in taxes, you expect services – not for them to waste it on boondoggles to Monaco and LA, vanity “legacy projects and a cruise ship terminal which they cannot produce a business case for or an EIA.

    • Anonymous says:

      Since when have the CIG sought or acted on good legal advice?!? Never happened!

    • Anonymous says:

      Just like they hired the best lawyers to win the SSM case where they brought down fancy QCs and lost and resorted to appealing which took a further 6 months? right?

      The Caymanian people aren’t in any rush, we will get our vote one way or the other, the Government are the ones desperate for this project to go through prior to the next election
      Caymanians have nothing but time, CPR and the Trust should tie this up in the courts as long as they can a big XXXX you to Alden and the Cruise lines are exactly what is needed

      • Anonymous says:

        Remember the Aina report FOI hearings? The ICO employed a law firm with zero experience of FOI and the FCO, who have been doing this for years, ran rings round them.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Amen, there is not a chance in hell that Caymanians are going to support this port..We have to much to lose Cayman…VOTE NO!!!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I got my postal ballot. Should I still send it back with my #VoteNo or should I save my courier fees money and wait it out? Also what is the deadline for me to return my postal ballot?

    • Anna says:

      Send it back anyway. Better safe than sorry! x

    • Anonymous says:

      Send it in asap…We never know what might happen between now and then but you will know you voted the right way…

    • Anonymous says:

      The deadline that the EO has to receive it back is 17 December. Maybe wait till first week of December.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you wait until December, with all the Christmas packages? It will get lost.

        • Anonymous says:

          They are sending overseas via courier & delivering local by hand. Guess they don’t trust the postal service for postal votes?

    • Anonymous says:

      Interesting. I live in Cayman & have not received my ballot. I have an email acknowledging receipt of my paperwork & that it will be sent…..

  15. Anonymous says:

    Do the 200 Caymanian voters that have been disenfranchised not count?

    • Anonymous says:

      No, they don’t. They registered too late.

      • They DID NOT 'register too late', They never had a chance says:

        “They registered too late”

        That is a wonderful framing i’d argue more akin to an outright lie if I’m being honest

        The vote was not officially announced until after the deadline to register to vote this year had already passed
        In what other country in the world is the deadline to register for a vote, before the announcement that the vote is even happening

        In order to vote this year, a potential newly registered voter would have had to have registered before July 1st, the vote was not confirmed by the elections office until the evening of September 11th
        So you think its reasonable that the cut off time for registration for the election was a full 72 days before the people even knew for a fact there would be an election?

        The pro port side is so terrified of losing this vote that they have turned to outright voter suppression to help bolster their efforts
        disenfranchisement of 200 Caymanians who have every right to register, and more than enough time to do so seeing as we were still months in advance of the date announced

        Anyone arguing for this ought to be ashamed of themselves and cannot claim to care about democratic principles

        • Anonymous says:

          Ah, but the silence from Governor Roper on this issue is deafening.

        • Anonymous says:

          They DID NOT ‘register..on time. The cut off point is in the Constitution.. maybe CPR should have done a better job informing its supporters.This CPr thing was in the air for over a year .. more than enough time to register if you want to vote on the referendum question.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Build the port already! why prolong the inevitable it won’t get any cheaper and anything we build we take a piece of the environment away, that will always be the downside of construction, what a beautiful planet we would have if we could construct and didn’t have to trouble the environment

    • Anonymous says:

      VOTE NO!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything. We have to fight this as hard as we can. Lets get the EIA and see how this project is going to impact us.

      • Anonymous says:

        Never mind the EIA. It doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. It’s not just the tenders that will lose income. Every single one of the dive spots downtown will lose their business. #VoteNo.

        Then the rest of the island will be subject to more cheapo tourists who will go back to the ship to eat. The remaining will go to tortuga for the fee rum cake tasting and buy a t shirt, magnet or mug.

        If you really need something to push you over to #VoteNo, traffic. Think of the insane amount of traffic with these cheapo tourists. How much longer is your commute going to be. How are you going to get around lunch time in town?

        Forget it. They can go somewhere else. #VoteNo

    • Anonymous says:

      Vote Yes!

    • Anonymous says:

      If the port is built and CML stop tendering, what happens in nor’westers? Do the cruise shippers leap, lemming-like, into the sea off Prospect?

  17. Kurt Christian says:

    Vote No

  18. Anonymous says:

    I hate to say this but we got this..let the vote go for December 19 and vote NO and lets get this over and done once and for all..

    • Anonymous says:

      Most people with half a brain cell can see this is a terrible idea (the port) but the others who have believed the propaganda from the ppm need it hammered into their thick skull.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Great to hear, the constitution is clear the Government does not have any right to the gross abuses of power we are currently witnessing by a government who have made perfectly clear they have no interest in respecting the will of the people

    The elections law should be followed in full including campaign finance limits and disclosure of donations (for all sides) and the vote should be counted and reported by constituency as per usual, bars and other establishments that sell alcohol should be closed until polls close

  20. Anonymous says:

    Alden, welcome to the rule of Law. It is in charge, not you!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Thank you CPR and National Trust!

    • Anonymous says:

      National Trust you go girl. Take em to court if you have to. .gov too harden. We support you for your bravery

  22. Anonymous says:

    Fix the damn dump.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Will the National Trust be doing to the same to prevent the atrocity planned for Beach Bay?

    • JTB says:

      I’m sure if you can suggest a way in which the Government is acting unconstitutionally in relation to Beach Bay, then the Trust would be very glad to look at a Judicial Review. After all, the Trust’s director spoke out against the development at the National Conservation Council.

      So far as I remember though, it’s not a government project but a private one, and since the Trust isn’t an adjoining landowner it has no standing to interfere or object. But hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of a cheap, ignorant shot.

      • Anonymous says:

        Great reply to 7:31, that should shut that issue down 🙂
        Give credit where credit is due; the trust is addressing the port and has a legal right to do so.

      • Anonymous says:

        It is a government project insofar as they have agreed to tax concessions and accepted all environmental liabilities.

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