Landowner ignores warnings to stop ripping out mangroves

| 18/03/2021 | 93 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): A landowner clearing land in Selkirk Drive, Red Bay, has reportedly ignored at least two notices from the Department of Environment to stop removing mangroves. Meanwhile, Alden McLaughlin, the outgoing premier who is fighting to retain the constituency, has said the government cannot deny the wner the right to develop it, despite the fact that his administration passed the law to protect mangroves. The clearing work has been going on for several days under the radar, but a local NGO focused on protecting mangroves learned of the clearance and turned the public spotlight on the latest in a long line of unlawful mangrove removal.

The Mangrove Rangers contacted CNS yesterday with pictures and the information they had gathered at the site. CNS was able to confirm that the DoE has issued warnings to the landowner and the construction company under the National Conservation Law, which now includes a species conservation plan for mangroves. This gives the department the powers to issue stop notices, and if prosecuted and convicted, perpetrators can be fined as much as CI$500,000 or even go to jail for as much as four years.

In the past, landowners who have cleared land mechanically without the requisite planning permission have suffered few consequences, at most a small after-the-fact fine. More often than not, the Central Planning Authority then goes on to grant future development applications on the cleared land. And even though there is now the possibility of a hefty fine, there is little that can be done to save mangroves that have already been ripped up by those who defy any direction to stop.

The power of the DoE to enforce the law in this case was directly undermined when McLaughlin responded to the Mangrove Rangers by stating that most of Red Bay and Prospect was once mangroves, which were cleared to make way for the houses his constituents now live in. “Government can’t simply take away a person’s right to develop their own land in accordance with its zoning without paying compensation,” he told the Rangers in an email.

The mangrove plan provides for a route to clearance through the law but does not exempt private landowners from going through the necessary process to secure permission.

Martin Keeley, the founder of the Rangers and well known expert on and advocate for the preservation of mangroves, told CNS that the NGO has been working hard since the plan was adopted by Cabinet and gazetted to get the details of the species conservation plan into the hands of developers and construction companies. He said there is no excuse for any of them for ignoring it now a year after its implementation.

“Once again, a developer cleared the mangroves with no, zero, planning permission,” he said. “The general idea that mangroves can be cleared with no consequences prevails, as does the cavalier attitude toward the law and the true value of the mangrove ecosystem. It is time for this to stop.”

CNS has since learned that there are no plans to develop this piece of land and that the landowner and the landscaper who removed the mangroves was trying to clear the site of debris and was unaware they required permission. He landscaper told CNS that when they received the DoE stop notice yesterday they did stop the work and that they are now going to do what they can to make good on their mistake under the direction of the DoE.

Keeley told CNS that anyone clearing mangroves is now being watched, and while developers may not care about what they are doing, the public does. “There is a greater awareness among Caymanians about the importance of mangroves and people are watching. The Mangrove Rangers will continue to monitor works for violations of the Species Conservation Plan,” he added.

For the 2021 General Elections, issues surrounding the environment and conservation are finally making it onto the campaign stage and the Unity government incumbents are being asked questions about excessive development and who truly benefits from it, but they have yet to come up with any answers.

Visit the Mangrove Rangers Facebook page.

Anyone who has spotted a suspected violation of the mangrove policy can contact them at
923-9000 or info@mangroverangers.ky

Or contact the DoE at 949-8469 or doe@gov.ky


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Category: Crime, development, DoE, Land Habitat, Local News, Science & Nature

Comments (93)

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  1. Sustainability Issues Facing Cayman | Question for Candidates

    Year on year, key parts of Cayman are at greater risk of flooding from storm surges and heavier rainfall, washing sewage and other pollution into our homes and our environment. Nature has gifted Cayman with natural storm defences such as our mangrove forests and wetlands, which are being destroyed.

    (QSTN) In the next four years, how would you wish to see Cayman respond to the need for better mangrove protection, stormwater management and pollution prevention?

  2. Owner is right says:

    There is way to much rabid environmentalism here. The owner was right to clear these lands. Look at the map, it’s a residential neighborhood surrounded by roads. The owner should fill and build.

    • Anonymous says:

      Nah the owner is wrong and the problem isn’t the love for the environment but the over population that has been let to fester.

    • Anonymous says:

      Troll comment, likely from the owner or developer (or someone who has the same plans)

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ll tell you my opinion – who cares! There should be another pension fund withdrawal if there is no stimulus cheques like every other country in the world. Those pension funds charging 1.5% on underperforming market funds are blatant white collar theft of all pensioners. Almost as big of a rip off as getting your car repaired at GT Automotive.

  4. No vote for the ppm Cutthroats! says:

    If you want this to change Cayman its very simple you have to vote for it ! Vote this corrupt Unity Government out on 14th April 2021 !

    • Anonymous says:

      Too bad there is no Green Party in the Cayman Islands. Would certainly vote for them as the developers are in full control here.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hello Folks =
    After reading all Blogs and Comments – this isn’t getting us
    anywhere =
    All you are doing is Stressing yourselves to the Max =
    Don’t get me wrong everyone has a right to express their opinion =
    God knows at times I feel like mine are being taking away
    with what this present Govt. and the Governments of the past
    are and has done to these islands we call home =
    I see a light at the end of the tunnel ( and I’m not thinking of the one where a train is coming at me at 200 MPH )=
    It’s called ELLECTION TIME =
    McKeeva and Alden are running SCARED my friends =
    They are SCARED of that Stroke of a pen on Election day = and to some they all appear to be your friends now =
    When you sell your rights to Vote for whom you wanted too and don’t because someone give you a few hundred Dollars then you are all TRAITORS
    I challenge everyone to do the right thing in this upcoming election
    Dexter Layman Ebanks

    e

  6. Red Bay resident says:

    Nope Vote Alden OUT remove from his cozy little perch

  7. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if the general public knows that this Government recently introduced Section 24 in the Development and Planning Regulations for Planned Area Developments (PADs) and it allows under sub-regulation (7) the ‘Authority’ to approve ‘as it sees fit’, the multi zoned development of even MANGROVE BUFFER zones.

    Perhaps now you can see where certain developers are completely free to do whatever they want and how DoE is in a constant fight with Planning.

    • Anonymous says:

      Correct 4.27, and the lawyer Sammy Jackson makes sure that his clients are not deprived of their rights in that regard.

  8. EyesWideOpen says:

    Ask the attorney who is running against Alden about how he helps his big developer clients get their way. Google his name and it will show how he has helped them destroy the environment. Perhaps these developers who are opposing this government are not getting their way and using the likes of Moxam and Jackson to do their dirty work. Look at their ties. #realpolitrix

    • Anonymous says:

      That attorney has a professional obligation to represent his clients to the best of his ability, whether he agrees with the development or not. He has also represented clients who opposed large-scale developments, but how convenient for you not to mention that.
      Remember the proposed cruise port that Alden’s government was trying so hard to push? Moxam played a key role in preventing that from happening, and Jackson was one of those who signed the petition early on.
      There is a huge effort to discredit these two candidates in particular, and comments such as these prove that true. Johann will win GTN, and Sammy will win Red Bay. Cayman is not a totalitarian state in which the same group of people control the country for decades on end. I want to see new faces in Parliament. I don’t mind Joey and Alden being replaced by two intelligent, capable individuals who care about ALL Caymanians and not just a select few.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Those mangroves in the middle of a busy neighborhood surrounded by roads on each side provide no benefit to these islands except for creating a mosh pit for land crabs to catch a meal and mosquitos to breed.

    Pick your battles man…

    • Anonymous says:

      Very well put, pick your battles. Cant believe this small tiny land-locked smelly micro-swamp plot of private land that a buyer paid money for in good faith is causing any controversy at all.

      I am sure the “Mangrove Rangers” dont live in trees, but rather developed houses and/or condos.

      Give it up already.

  10. Jack says:

    Now I have to wonder how many of you that left anonymous comments live in Crystal harbor or other areas of Cayman that mangroves were cleared years ago and you now own a multi Million $$$ house there.
    Should you really be calling the kettle black, is it ok that you live in a area that thousands of acres of mangroves were cleared before we had a law forbidding it. You’re all grasshoppers eating on crops that are not yours.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your argument is fundamentally flawed. Just because something wrong was done in the past does not mean it’s appropriate to do now. That’s why laws change: to correct for past errors. In this case to protect the environment. Perhaps we should have burned a few women as witches when the pandemic hit? And no,I do not live in a big house in Crystal Harbour.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well said Jack.
      There’s just too many people who are experts on everything.
      Inland Mangroves used to be called swamps , where mosquitos bred and were public enemy no.1.

      • D. Truth says:

        I wonder if peole knew then that the mangroves gave protection when hurricans struck.

        • Anonymous says:

          A hurricane called Ivan did strike, and the mangroves did sweet nuttin to protect anything.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not sure what point you’re trying to make. Applying for permission before irreversibly destroying something is the correct process. Following a reasonable and correct (and legal) procedure doesn’t mean Planning or DoE will automatically say, “no, Mr Landowner, you can’t do that with your property”. More likely they’ll say, “okay to clear, but leave a 5′ buffer hedge for birds and hurricane protection”. That kind of sensible advice might actually lower the insurance rates for the landowner.

    • D. Truth says:

      Yes, mangroves were cleared years ago………. and now you are saying, “Mangroves were cleared before we had a law forbidding it.” Do you have trouble absorbing what you read and write, Jack? WE HAVE A LAW FORBIDDING IT! That means the law forbids further destruction! I always try to obey the law. Maybe you should try it, along with those other money-hungry bastards.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Looking forward to leaving, off to find a tropical island.

    • Greetings from real tropical paradise. says:

      I left few years ago, no regrets. Once in a while I check on what is happening in Cayman… things have gone from bad to worse.

      • Anonymous says:

        oow I’d love to know where you are now. And if it really is that much better. (how and why)

        Many years ago there was an exodus of expats in the F&B industry. About 1/3 returned. Maybe they chose the wrong alternative but it scared me into staying. Shame on me.
        Almost everything I predicted about things here have come true and a lot of that was about Dart. And the corruption. More to come, trust that. Including that iconic tower.
        I hope to jump this sinking ship in the next 2 years. I can’t bear to watch anymore. It genuinely breaks my heart for the Cayman youth.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bye bye, now. Have a nice trip.

    • D. Truth says:

      Goodbye, 9:04 pm. Please write and post on CNS how you make out.

  12. Anonymous says:

    If anyone owns swampland it is for development. If a person buys the land and it hasn’t been passed to Government as a gift or to the National Trust it’s for Development. It hasn’t changed in 50 years. If a person or group wishes to sue whomever they think is doing something illegal, the owners can countersue. Everyone who has a place to sleep tonight or go tomorrow for eight hours of activity has destroyed some part of the environment. If you are TRUELY concerned with the environment sell or give YOUR property to the National Trust. READY, SET, GO

    • Anonymous says:

      The point is that you need to apply for planning permission, pay a fee, get your plans stamped. Then you can clear.

      • Anonymous says:

        Try that and see how well it works for you. Then feel free to tell other people to do it. Almost everyone who does that gets screwed over by planning one way or another. The only way to get anything done is to NOT go through planning unless your in the lodge. This is just part of living in a corrupt place.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Spineless jelly fish. They never ever want to call the shots and deal with the problems. They are just to afraid to offend some of the corrupted voters. Something just got to drop soooooon.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thank you CnS – need more of this public accountability. Be smart Red bay & West bay – these areas specifically will determine our future outlook left for the next generation!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Some people wonder why others accuse us of being corrupt….

    • Anonymous says:

      Amazing, disappointing, sad…

      Cayman, you want to be respected???? Stop electing corrupt officials, stop ignoring your laws that are intended to prevent this. Stop allowing officials to benefit from projects they benefit from financially.

      My god, what a third world mess. Cayman is totally controlled by greed, money robbers, and corruption.

      What a shame for paradise… long ago!

    • Anonymous says:

      What is corrupt about a man clearing his land to develop in accordance with zoning.
      Look at the parcel, it is surrounded by paved road and within a housing subdivision.
      Get a life.

      • Anonymous says:

        See here, YOU are one of the many reasons that Caymanians do not understand corruption.
        HE HAS NO PLANNING PERMISSION TO REMOVE THEM.

        AND, there are no plans to develop this piece of land. Did you merely read the headline and not even bother to read the article? Numbskull.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Don’t be an ass,10:O3. Never mind. It’s too late!

  17. Say it like it is says:

    Is the landowner a protected species?, – if he defies the law his name should be published.

    • Anonymous says:

      He should probably also be arrested and fined, but we do not enforce laws around here…

  18. Anonymous says:

    Spineless wannabe leader doomed to retire man

  19. Anonymous says:

    ha ha ha ha! kungfu fighting…they as fast as lightning….lol…politicians never ceases to amaze…

  20. Anonymous says:

    There is no way that anyone can vote for the PPM if the environment is a priority for them. Also, the PPM administration has made it clear to all large property owners that there are no consequences for destroying the environment or not following laws or regulations.

  21. Anonymous says:

    The Excavating companies should be required to have a permit to do any work on land that is not approved for excavation by the Planning Board..If they do so they there should be a hefty fine including prison time if necessary

    The people owning the land that cleared it should also be fined and/or imprisoned and there should be a policy that there are no after the fact approvals and the developer will need to wait for 5 years and reapply.

    Our Government is hell bent on paving every damn piece of land and destroying every bit of the mangroves needs to go and we need good men and women to replace them that will care about us the people and our environment and not about lining their pockets from wealthy investors laundering their money through developments..does anyone wonder why we are still on the blacklist?

    • Nadia says:

      Planning is part of the problem. They give retro active permission all the time and there are never any consequences. This is a joke. NCC and DoE need to start using their powers to fine and I would also publicly shame this landowner.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Look at the upper right corner of that picture and you will see where a local developer has removed coastal mangroves along North Sound and filled it with Marl. I missed that one being posted on CNS.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Landscapers/crews that proceed blindly on Landowner instructions, or with palmed wads of cash, without verifying proper approvals, should forfeit their T&BL, pay a steep fine, and/or themselves go to jail. Simple as that. Too many bad actors.

    • Anonymous says:

      TBL? What a joke! I have called DCI and Immigration a thousand times about adverts on a very popular website which advertises illegal workers and illegal businesses. But government workers are too goddamned lazy to check a public website once a day or, more likely, don’t care because everyone in government is corrupt.

  24. Anonymous says:

    At some point, developers shouldn’t just risk getting current and future planning approvals compromised, and the steep fines that never happen, but also re-appropriation of the land by the crown for violating permissions of use. Bad behaviour is so prevalent that the CIG is missing a money-making revenue line here worth tens of millions!

  25. MP says:

    Impound those excavators on the spot and hold them as surety against the fine.

  26. Anonymous says:

    It’s inland private land. Is it not allowed to be developed ? What’s the issue? Mangroves on the coast I understand but are people not allowed to develop their land anymore ?

    • Anonymous says:

      Only the sanctimonious virtue signalers that have already destroyed the mangroves for their own purposes to build their properties, have the so-courageous moral authority to dictate and prevent others from building on their land.

      Wokness are the new laws. Zoning regulations, legal property ownership are all expendable.

    • Anonymous says:

      The issue is they aren’t developing anything, and they don’t have planning permission.

      They are just killing mangroves for no reason.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think the people living in homes and complaining about others developing, should tear down their homes and plant vegetation in its place. Actions speak louder than words.

    • Anonymous says:

      Inland?

      If you can pelt a stone into the sea I dont think that counts as inland bobo….

  27. Anonymous says:

    Wait until Ivan the Second hits the island!

  28. The powerful protect their tribe says:

    “Government can’t simply take away a person’s right to develop their own land in accordance with its zoning without paying compensation,” he told the Rangers in an email.”

    The former Premier is clear that developer and landowner rights must be protected. These are the wealthy that line the pockets of the corrupt politicians and are allowed to degrade our environment, receive waivers on building materials, receive waivers for their buyers of stamp duty, pay no income tax, no property tax and employ 90%+ foreigners to build their projects. Not to mention increasing the density and height allowances of these developments without having to contribute money for roads, schools and infrastructure which are paid out of the general fund. And does any money or property find its way into the politician’s pockets?

    What about the small businesses he closed for 3+ months for COVID? His quote should be changed to say “government can’t simply shut down a legal business without compensating them for their loss.” Instead, we might grant you a loan whereby you get all of our personal private data and then, because it is a loan, it must be fully paid back.

    This is also in contrast to the fact that politicians and their CIG allies were fully compensated during the lockdown and were not required to use any of their vacation or sick leave. They even got raises during the “pandemic”.

    It is obvious we are not all in it together. Mr. McLaughlin, you need to do better as do all the politicians and put Cayman First not just those that help extend the political careers through unjust enrichment. Please be a better steward of the Island and its citizens.

    • Anonymous says:

      well said! Thank you.

    • Anonymous says:

      You raise a very important point and reasoning for why we must implement a property tax:
      These are the wealthy that line the pockets of the corrupt politicians and are allowed to degrade our environment, receive waivers on building materials, receive waivers for their buyers of stamp duty, pay no income tax, no property tax and employ 90%+ foreigners to build their projects. Not to mention increasing the density and height allowances of these developments without having to contribute money for roads, schools and infrastructure which are paid out of the general fund.

      Our model of indirect taxation DOES NOT work, and has created a have and have nots society in which the have nots are taxed disproportionately.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually, most of the have nots are imported. If we controlled that side of the equation, and enforced our laws, we’d be fine.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually consumption taxes are a more equitable method of taxation if administered properly. Necessities have low tax rates and increasing level of tax on luxuries.

      • Anonymous says:

        that is a terrible idea. There are haves and have nots in every society in the world with every tax scheme in the world.

        Truthfully, consumption taxes do favor the wealthy. However, that’s the system that’s been set up here. Cost of living is already the highest in the world. Stamp duty on real estate is also very high per transaction. Don’t try to make it any worse than it is.

        Most importantly (and this is the key) the governments of the world often prove themselves incapable of managing public money properly. This country’s government is no exception. They spend $10 for every $1 in value. So for your million dollars in infrastructure improvements they will tax $10 million and waste 9.

        Don’t even think about it.

    • The Travel Agent says:

      Screw that! He should leave the Cayman Islands, He has done far too much damage already!

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds like bull hockey to me!

  29. Anonymous says:

    The little man needs to get planning permission to put up a shed or get trapped in govt red tape.

    But the big man can clear all the mangroves and nothing happens.

    Killing mangroves isn’t developing. I have nothing against people clearing mangroves to build something. I take issue when they kill the mangroves and leave a wasteland for rats and chickens to fester in.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t one of those lots owned by an electoral candidate for the district of Newlands, or has he sold that off to “White Bear”?

  31. Anonymous says:

    You might not like this idea but start fining the company that does the removal. Make them require the permit from the land owner prior to doing the work.

    Of course since nobody is being fined anyway it’s just another stupid idea.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Shut up as we need the development and the great jobs it will generate. Premier Alden knows how to get things done!

    • Anonymous says:

      He definitely knows!

      He knows how to ensure the wealthy get even wealthier and the poorer, hard-working folks get left behind.

      He knows that Caymanian kids are leaving the schools ill equipped and with a sub standard education.

      He knows that thousands of people suffer daily trying to commute to their places of work.

      He knows it’s not right to go around bars getting drunk and beating up women but yet does nothing.

      He knows that the majority of people in Cayman didn’t want the port but he persisted with it and used public money to promote it.

      He knows alright. He just doesn’t care.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t be an ass,10:O3. Never mind. It’s too late!

  33. Anonymous says:

    Just in case anyone is new here, laws really don’t mean much in cayman because enforcement is minimal unless you have pot.

    • Tom says:

      I get pot discreetly delivered by the oz every weekend like pizza delivery orders. Reminds me of living in NY. There has never been a single day since I moved here that I couldn’t get a delivery even when Jamaica supposedly went into a drought during covid.

      Something tells me they don’t care much about it here either, or the blatant corruption has roots in the black market.

      Perhaps the arrests for a petty possession are to make it look like something is being done while allowing the corrupted elite and drug lords to profit. Not sure why Caymanians can’t grow their own weed yet an expat friend of mine can import and prescribe it

  34. Anonymous says:

    Then send them to court.

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