New Health City needs closer look before approval

| 17/08/2021 | 14 Comments
Aerial Imagery showing the proposed hospital site (outlined in orange) and the nearby George Town Landfill and waste water treatment works (Source: LIS 2018, from the CPA agenda)

(CNS): The planning application by Health City Cayman Islands requires a much closer look before the Central Planning Authority gives the project the green light, given its magnitude and the likely impact on the community, the Department of Environment has said. Although the National Conservation Council agreed it does not require a full environmental impact assessment, the council and the DoE are advising the authorities to seek traffic, waste-management and needs assessments before granting approval.

The experts said that more information is needed to determine if the potential positive outcomes outweigh the adverse effects. But according to the CPA agenda for this week, no one from HCCI has been called to appear to discuss these issues when the application is considered.

Health City’s application for the development in Camana Bay is for a 3-storey, 57-bed hospital, which will provide specialised services in oncology and prenatal care. The application was due to be heard at the CPA meeting on Wednesday but the meeting has been moved to Friday because of Tropical Storm Grace.

When it does meet, the DoE is urging CPA members to consider a wide range of issues before granting permission, especially whether or not there is a need for a further medical facility of this type, in accordance with the draft National Planning Framework.

In its submissions the DoE said that if this project goes ahead, it will likely have socioeconomic effects, including creating jobs and proving additional healthcare services, but local employment provisions have not specifically been quantified in this proposal.

“As with other specialist healthcare facilities in Cayman, if the skilled medical workforce is sourced from overseas this would result in population increase and the potential associated pressures on infrastructure,” the DoE warned.

Information on how many jobs will be created during construction and operation, particularly for the local workforce, as well as economic activity in the area, housing supply for staff at the hospital, demand on community services and facilities as a result of the potential change in population and land use all need to be assessed before planning permission is decided, the DoE stated.

The CPA will also need to see a comprehensive waste assessment in consultation with the Department of Environmental Health determining the likely amount and type of waste that will be generated during the construction and during the operation of the proposed development, the DoE said, as this will have an impact on waste at the existing landfill and the road network.

Identifying opportunities for reduction, reuse and recycling of waste during both construction and operation of the hospital and assessing the impact and identifying management methods for hazardous waste arising from the development also need to be considered.

There should also be a traffic assessment because of the increase in traffic during the construction and once the hospital opens, the DoE said. The proposal has not included any sustainable transport measures, despite an increase in heavy duty vehicles, particularly for the delivery of aggregate to the site to fill the area, and the extra traffic expected with a hospital, including ambulances.

“The cumulative impact of several new large developments in this area, such as Olea, the expansion of Cayman International School and the 10-storey Nexus Way building will also likely have a significant effect on traffic on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway,” the DoE said.

Looking specifically at environmental issues and climate resilience, the DoE pointed out that no embedded mitigation measures have been proposed, such as the use of solar power, rainwater harvesting, or grey‐water capture.

“The proposal includes the removal of 3.4 acres of impacted mangrove habitat,” the DoE experts said in their submissions. “The removal of the mangroves and the underlying peat to facilitate construction of the hospital will result in releases of stored carbon.”

Carbon storage is a key ecosystem service provided by mangroves, which in this case will be lost. While the hospital is proposing to use native plants for landscaping where possible, which will offer some mitigation for the loss of native vegetation, it will not deliver the level of ecosystem services that the mangrove habitat provides.

But the DoE also noted that much of the mangrove that remains on the site has already been impacted in recent years by the construction of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway. Construction in the area resulted in the mangroves being impounded and drowned by contained flood water.

“Although there has been some recovery of white mangroves, the ecosystem services of the site have been significantly undermined. Impacts such as these are a part of a wider problem of wetland loss throughout the Cayman Islands, predominantly due to development,” the screening report noted.

But given that the damage to the existing mangroves was as a result of the development in and around Camana Bay, it is not appropriate in this case to require the hospital developers to offer “mitigation compensation” for the mangroves, the DoE said .

See this week’s planning agenda in the CNS Library.


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Category: development, Local News

Comments (14)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Will it be built in time to house all the unvaccinated?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hey, it’s DART, what possibly could go wrong…

    I’m NOT for it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yep. Think some decco people were told those trees were dying due to the connector road they built. They played ignorant.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Where’s ALT’s rubber stamp? Oh yeah it got retired..

    Isn’t strange how before they would show up for one meeting, rubber stamp it and on to the next development?

    No matter how well intentioned we need to look at its overall impact on our infrastructure, economic viability and just simply where it will be..

    I appreciate the new board doing a little extra due diligence.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Approved!

    • Anonymous says:

      Who the hell would not want world class medical/cancer treatment center.?

      • Anonymous says:

        right next to the giant cancer causing pile….

      • Anonymous says:

        the ignorant

      • Anonymous says:

        Those who believe the dead tress will save them.

      • Anonymous says:

        Another medical facility with yet another medical waste incinerator pumping out toxic crap into our air and zero comments from dept of environmental health. Why? Because their antiquated 20 year old laws don’t regulate emissions.

        So let’s trust that Health City will follow same EPA guidelines as at Shettyy except uh oh, EPA stopped regulating medical waste emissions 20 years ago too!!!

        Maybe that’s why NHS banned all these individual medical waste incinerators 20 years ago and required everyone to contract with ONE regulated, professional facility AWAY FROM populated areas!!!!

        But let’s just keep building world class medical facilities here under the new medical tourism flag and increase our already high cancer rate. We’ll deal with it later like we do everything else. SIGH

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