NCC stands firm over EIA on Dart PAD in West Bay

| 10/08/2021 | 23 Comments
Dart PAD in West Bay outlines in blue

(CNS): The National Conservation Council is standing firm on its directive that the islands’ biggest developer will need to conduct an environmental impact assessment for its planned area development (PAD) application for a major project in West Bay. Efforts by Dart to undermine the validity of the EIA requirement for this proposed new town, applied for by its subsidiary company Crymble Landholding, have been confronted directly by the council members, who maintain that they have the legal power to request the EIA and have done so for good reason.

Dismissing Dart’s criticism, the NCC said an EIA for this PAD was essential because the application submitted seeks permission to “develop on a scale that substantially exceeds the allowances indicated in the planning regulations”.

In its advice to the council, the Department of Environment said it is imperative that an EIA is carried out, but in response the Dart Group released a statement challenging the requirement for the environmental overview as well as the authority of the NCC.

However, the NCC said it supported the DoE’s findings and stated that it is legally able to request an EIA under the National Conservation Act. The council explained that the law mandates that the DoE produce a screening opinion, which must then voted be on by the NCC members.

In the opinion the technical experts had detailed why an EIA was required, which was then, as required, voted on and accepted by the council in April. Shortly afterwards, it was sent on to the Department of Planning and Dart. The NCC then ratified that vote and screening opinion, which was discussed openly at a public meeting last month attended by several members of the press, including CNS.

The Development and Planning Regulations outline the considerations that must be made in relation to a PAD application to ensure the impacts and effects on the community of the development are fully understood before any approval is given.

“These include assessing the likely impact of the proposed development on the infrastructure of the Islands as well as on the educational, social, medical and other aspects of life in the Islands,” the NCC said in the press release, which was supported by the DoE.

Officials said the EIA allows for all the issues of national importance that are relevant to the application for development to be considered and evaluated before a determination is made about the PAD.

The council also refuted claims by Dart that it had been inconsistent in the treatment of its application, pointing out that the NCC’s ability to require EIAs for a PAD application did not come into effect until 2016. While the DoE had recommended EIAs for Camana Bay, Health City and the George Town City Services PADs before that date, the Central Planning Authority ignored the recommendations in all of those cases.

Since the formation of the NCC, only two PAD applications have been submitted. The recent Aster MedCity development and this latest application from Dart for the Canal and Hotel District development. Both developments were screened for EIAs and the EIA screening opinions were endorsed by the NCC.

“The Aster MedCity development did not require an EIA because it is smaller and much less complex,” the NCC said, noting that the council had still made a number of recommendations as the DoE had outlined concerns with this development. “This should not be confused with saying there is no impact, because the DoE did recommend additional studies to fully understand the impacts associated with Aster MedCity.”

Dart has claimed that the potential removal of beachrock on Seven Mile Beach is not part of the PAD. But the NCC pointed out that the developer has indicated on a number of occasions that it wants to remove the rock to facilitate one of the hotels outlined in the PAD, and as recently as January 2021 executives from the company met with DoE and said they still wanted to remove the beachrock. The DoE has said this requires an EIA because it could, among other things, fundamentally alter Seven Mile Beach forever and should be studied carefully.

“Dart had expressed to the DoE that the removal of beachrock was required to facilitate hotel development at the PAD site. To the DoE’s knowledge, in the four years which have passed, Dart has not progressed the EIA in line with the EIA Directive,” the NCC stated.

The council confirmed that, since an EIA is required for both the beachrock removal and for the PAD, it would be logical to do them together.

While the NCC and the DoE agree with Dart that an up-to-date and comprehensive development plan is long overdue, the EIA process will remain as a tool to assess development as it is used to work out the details of a complex project. EIAs are designed to make sure that when a decision is made, it is done with the full understanding of the consequences on the environment and on people. It also identifies ways to make a project better for the environment.

“The DoE and the NCC maintain that it is in the best interest of the country to ensure that the approval process for a major mixed-use development, such as this, be informed by a thorough assessment of the potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts which would be encapsulated in the EIA process, a decision-making tool which is recognised, accepted, and welcomed globally,” the DOE and NCC stated in the release.

They pointed out that Dart or anyone else aggrieved by a decision of the council can appeal. “As far as the DoE is aware, no appeal has been lodged.”

Both EIA screening opinions are available at the NCC’s website.

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Comments (23)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    A perspective I consider about these all consuming developers is what would they do if they were given free reign, to carry on at will but to govern themselves as to what they thought was morally acceptable and in the best interests of the citizens, the Country and most of all the environment, – what would happen. Dart claims to play the long game (the others short term opportunists) but according to the latest UN release in another 30 years the self aggrandizing agenda will be irrelevant. The answer I believe is if given the opportunity and only adhering to the four basic humanity based considerations is that they couldn’t do it, it’d be s%*t fest and Cayman over

    • Hubert says:

      Absolutely beyond me why it is unreasonable for Dart to do an environmental assessment.

      On one hand Dart talks about sustainability and all sorts of environmentally friendly things, but objects to an environmental assessment.

      As I said before, Dart has a major public relations problem. With all their money they don’t get it. Time to develop a feel fledged public affairs strategy. Their is something missing in their approach to projects.

      Guess they really learned nothing from Britannia.

  2. Sunrise says:

    Seems like everytime that he can’t get his way, he throws a temper tantrum!! “I am going home to tell my mommy (elected members), she will fix you”. I remember I was at a party one night, and the present speaker said; “the best thing to happen to Cayman, is Dart”. I corrected him by saying, you mean the best thing that happened to you, is Dart! Dart was on a crown land spree, when some of these clowns were elected members. I hope this Premier, really stands up for what he says that he believes in. For christ sake man, this is a 24 by 8 island, let us try and keep it an island!! Why are we trying to develop this little space to look like New York or Chicago? If you would like to see big cities, catch a flight out and enjoy it for a while, then return to paradise. A little development is nice, but this is getting ridiculous now. I hear some folks saying, well Dart is doing a lot for these islands and the locals. As a local, how many condominiums can you purchase from Dart? Seems that he has a lot of interest in the locals for sure!! 🙂

    • Draco says:

      Never forget!…… Dart is for Dart! ……Not you, not me, just Dart!
      All he is interested in is getting richer. How many billion does a man need? Have you found a way to take it to hell with you, Mister Dart?

      • Anonymous says:

        Of course Dart is for Dart, he is not running a charity. Who are all the Caymanian families that sold out to Dart for? What did they do with those big fat checks?

  3. Anonymous says:

    We live close enough to this to and objected to it, we have received no response. What the heck is the deal with that?

    • Anonymous says:

      Take it up with the CPA. They are the ones who sadly have the power to either approve it or hopefully not in this case.

    • Anonymous says:

      The next thing you can do is show up at the hearing, having submitted your letter. The letter just gets added to the paperwork for the hearing and will be read by the CPA members (in theory).

  4. Anonymous says:

    As they should! Our previous elected members gave him and too many other developers concessions now he and the rest of the greedy bunch think they’re entitled.

    Dart is really trying to take the Pi$$.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What happened when y’all removed that “Beach Rock” from the pristine protected marine environment just north of the Kimpton? Stop stomping around like an elephant! You are really really pissing people off.

    • Anonymous says:

      In the trial area? Looks a lot to me like more beach came as a result. You should check it out.

      • Anonymous says:

        Not so fast. Britannia rules the waves!

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks to the Dart sand bucket brigade maybe? Get back to your desk you jaded propaganda artist.

        • Anonymous says:

          The truth will set you free.

          Actually, I noticed it on a social media group a few months back.
          Quite interesting really.

          If you are genuinely interested, have a quick scroll through the Covidography Facebook page until you come across a drone image posted in May 21.

          Otherwise, shut the hell up and let the professionals get on with it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Boss Hog will show all you how it goes!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Development for the Caymanians and by the caymanians protecting our shores of the beutiful islands should be our motto

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