CPA urged not to allow clearing of critical habitat

| 28/09/2021 | 35 Comments
Cayman Islands mangroves (file photo by Alvaro Serey)

(CNS): The Central Planning Authority is being urged not to allow a developer to clear two separate plots of critical natural habitat, one in Breakers and the other in High Rock, East End, in the absence of any development plans, given the growing concern about the loss of primary forest and mangroves. An application going before the CPA tomorrow is seeking to clear several acres of dry forest and shrubland as well as seasonally flooded mangroves and woodland across the two pieces of land.

But no justification has been provided for the assault on the natural environment and no development has been proposed to provide a benefit to set against the loss of this untouched land. In its advice to the CPA the Department of Environment has outlined why the board should not allow the clearance.

“Speculative land clearing removes the option of retaining native vegetation outside the footprint of a prospective development. It also results in the fragmentation of undisturbed primary habitat in the surrounding area,” the experts at the DoE said in submissions to the CPA, which will be considering the applications on Wednesday. “It is important to note that fragmentation is continuing to affect primary habitat interrupting important ecological services, wildlife corridors and facilitating the introduction of invasive species on cleared land.”

The application by Anthony Powell gives no details at all of what is planned for either of the sites he wants to clear, and speaking as the voice of the National Conservation Council, the DoE pointed to the fragmentation as a key factor negatively affecting forest and woodland in the Cayman Islands because it exposes extensive areas of forest to damaging edge effects, including wind sheer, ingress of light, and modification.

The National Biodiversity Action Plan, a policy document long ignored when it comes to development, explained why speculative clearance, which is all too common in Cayman, usually in order to market the land, is not only serious because of the immediate damage to the habitat but also the long-term negative impacts on wider eco-systems.

“Regardless of whether a sale is forthcoming, invasive species colonise the cleared area, compromising both the cleared site and impacting neighbouring parcels. Speculative clearance removes any option for a prospective buyer to maintaining native vegetation. The proposed clearing of this property will result in fragmentation of the undisturbed primary forest and woodland in the surrounding area,” the DoE warned.

The DoE explained that retaining the natural habitat until a decision is made about development has many advantages for the existing or new land owners because it contributes to a more productive soil, which attracts wildlife and enhances the potential for landscaping and shade. Retaining the rich habitat provides a buffer for future development from roads and neighbouring development and helps in the management of run-off and drainage. It also provides the wider benefit to all of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the notes from the planning department on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting, officials noted that the CPA has typically expressed concern about the clearing of land with no plans for development. However, the applicant has not been asked to appear to explain the reasons for wanting to clear the land.

Last month the CPA granted the planning minister’s father permission to mechanically clear mangrove forest in North Side, also in the absence of any planning application to develop the land.

See the application in the CNS Library (scroll down to Powell, Anthony)

See the Cayman Islands National Biodiversity Action Plan 2009 in the CNS Library here.


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

Comments (35)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The CPA seems to be a rogue entity that will do whatever it feels like doing irrespective of the environmental damage and consequences. As the members of the CPA don’t seem to be working in alignment with the policies of the PACT government there might be a need for fundamental change in the makeup of the CPA.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are delusional if you think PACT is somehow a gift to deliver Cayman from the wrongs of the past.
      Call it what it really is, UDP under the leadership of Teflon Mac.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cool…change out the members…12 times if you want but they all have to follow the Planning Laws and Regulations or are you suggesting the members break those laws in order to follow PACT policies. Did PACT ever think to stop and check if their policies were aligned with planning regulations and laws…OOPS.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Same old, same old. Caymanians happy to wreck their island in the pursuit of dollar. No great shakes here.

    • Anonymous says:

      Every article written regarding every house lot being cleared for a Caymanian to build a house is ‘critical habitat’ according to CNS. XXX

      CNS: Duh! If it’s not deemed to be critical habitat and there are no other serious objections, we don’t write an article about it. Check the CPA agenda if you want to read about all the non-controversial applications that were approved.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Let’s see. Clear all the vital habitat the animals here use then blame cats for the decline in birds on the Island. Can’t make it up.

  4. Anonymous says:

    How much longer will we wait to get rid of this CPA Board? Are we going to wait for the Auditor General to tell it to the Government again?

    This CPA Chairman and his Deputy are so invested in approving development that they may have just left the old PPM board in place.

    This board is like the PPM’s on steroids..

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ian Pairadeau has the good ole “rubber stamp” that Al’T left for him out and ready for full approval..

    Are we going to let him and Handel continue until there is nothing left?

  6. Anonymous says:

    The property that most Caymanians have,were will to them by their ancesstors.How can all these expats come here now and dictate what Caymanians should do with their land. Caymanians were preserving land long before you all came here,why you all think you are the only experts now, when you all live in Patrick Island,Crystal Harbour,South Sound etc.which is all reclaimed land.I don’t see any names like Ebanks,Rankin or Powery posting.

    • SJames says:

      Remember who was preserving these land? prospect land ,Crystal Harbour red bay, snug harbor, the pond where the Mariott is now? Do these names ring a bell? Jim Bodden, Rex Crighton, Billy Reid, Selkirk Watler, Kirkconnell family. Caymanians have been filling in South Sound since at least 1968.
      Expats are not dictating and rarely are asked to sit on ‘political boards’. What is your problem?

  7. Beaumont Zodecloun says:

    When I was a boy, these lands were revered. If someone chose to build upon them — business or residential — the did so within context of what was good for the area.

    I don’t understand why we have allowed wholesale destruction of lands and mangroves.

    Somewhere around ten-fifteen years ago, we started endorsing the view that if somebody bought a piece of land, it was theirs to do with as they chose. Yes, that is true, until your choice degrades the ecology of those around you and even downcurrent of you.

    We need to do better. I hate that people can buy properties and then fasttrack their building ‘scheme’ through planning, seemingly without a care as to the environmental impact. We need to create legislation which empowers DOE with the teeth to mandate, rather than ‘suggest’.

    I don’t like seeing our islands get ruined by big business. I have no qualms with the rich and influential, but I want us all to remember that they NEED us more than we NEED them. They should be ASKING, not demanding. We need to do better, or this territory will be no different than the other overbuilt places.

  8. Anonymous says:

    What the hell is the point of buying a piece of land and nobody wants you to clear it. Do we buy land just for the fun of having it or all we breaking our necks trying to get out of rent with these ridiculous prices. I want somebody tell me I cant clear my land and lets see how fast it will burn down. If you guys want to keep the bush there then buy the land and leave the bush on it and keep it for fun..

    • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

      You should be required to deal with your land in a manner than doesn’t degrade the local ecology. If you’re not willing to do that, then you shouldn’t buy the land. You shouldn’t be allowed to buy the land if you want to burn it. You shouldn’t be allowed to burn it. It is yours to use. It isn’t yours to destroy.

    • anon against ignorance says:

      5.27pm To some,ignorance is bliss.

    • Anonymous says:

      Correct, if you purchase a piece of land that has been zoned for development, it’s no ones business if you choose to clear it Least of all the DOE/NCC. Their concerns should lie solely in those applications which fall outside of current zoning.

      • Anonymous says:

        Everything is zoned for development even Sand Cay lighthouse – that island off South Sound.

  9. JTB says:

    Application for planning permission.
    Please tick all that apply:

    1. I am a close relative of a government MP
    2. McKeeva said he would swing it for me
    3. I stand to make a fortune out of this
    4. Obviously all the fees and duties have been waived though
    5. DoE don’t like it but who cares
    6. This development will be completely inappropriate for the location but so what
    7. Why should I tell you what my plans are? Just get the rubber stamp out, now!

  10. Tony says:

    What a joke ,substantial development can take place ,but the land can’t be use for farming.The application plainly states, for Agriculture purposes.I can build a large concrete structure,but I can’t plant Pumpkins,plantains or cassava.I can’t eat concrete, but I surely can eat vegetables.I must sell the land to someone who can build condos,otherwise I must just look at it and have iguanas crawl all over.If they want to control my land, make me an offer that I can’t refuse,so I can buy more farm land.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Might as well just clear the rest of the island & get it over with. Use Mt Trashmore to fill in North Sound, make more land to exploit. Very sad what’s happening to Cayman.

  12. Natural Protected Lands Not Sacred Anymore says:

    Very sad for Cayman that some people just want to satisfy their urge to destroy what is precious and irreplaceable. And more unfortunate is the current CPA is hell bent on fulfilling their agenda of allowing anything and everything. Do they even comprehend what sustainable development is?
    A bad precedent was set years ago when Dart was allowed to clear huge swaths of mangrove without consideration for replanting. Now the smaller developers are at it too.
    Since Tony is a born Caymanian I can’t see CPA stopping this one. And considering recent CPA rulings, this is a definite candidate for immediate approval at their next meeting.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Money talks unfortunately, we won’t learn till Cayman is declared uninhabitable due to the rising seas coming in, which the mangroves previously prevented.

  14. Anonymous says:

    So the DoE has gone from “ordering” the CPA not to approve something (house in sea) to advising them not to approve something. What’s next, please pretty please and kiss your butt?

  15. Anonymous says:

    The CPA chairman must be laughing his backside off! Don’t know what all the ruckus is about folks as this one will get the go ahead just like all the rest!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Precedent was set in granting permission to Jay’s father.

    • Anonymous says:

      The critical slip happened years ago. Now others argue why they shouldn’t get the same let from CPA. Time to face the new future of Cayman, which is no natural habitat left, just a created urban habitat and fake attractions. This together with our costal marine habitat in peril from disease I don’t see what of any natural interest we’ll have to offer tourists in the future.

    • Anonymous says:

      No! Say it ain’t so. Not Wayne’s Jay and his PACT team. They are People Driven and Accountable and plus whatever C & T means. That’s what they are. They would not do anything funny that would tarnish their halos.

  17. Anonymous says:

    If the land is so valuable then approach the land owner to purchase it. I don’t know how these people think it’s ok to tell a land owner when to clear his land.

    • Anonymous says:

      You must live in an incredible world where no one’s actions affect you. If I play loud music on my land, the sound doesn’t annoy you. If I burn garbage, the smoke doesn’t choke you. If I walk in my yard nude, your eyes don’t see that far. If I feed rats on my property every day, those rats know to never walk cross you.

      After all, it’s my land and I don’t know how these people think it’s okay to tell me, A LANDOWNER – the most glorious thing that I could ever be, the most godly of positions – that I shouldn’t engage in nuisance behaviour.

      God save our gracious landowners, long live our noble landowners, god save landowners.

    • Anonymous says:

      This statement or similar gets brought up a lot, the whole notion that you get to do whatever you wish with your property. I really don’t understand the logic behind that thought at all. I mean, we already have limitations on what we can do with our property in our current system. I can’t build a 50-story building on my property, nor can I burn vegetation on my property as there are currently regulations that limits your actions on your property. As a society we have already decided to apply restrictions and regulations to the use of property so at this point we are having a conversation on how something should be regulated as we have already agreed that property should be regulated. Thus, having addition limitations and restrictions applied to the type of development that could be permitted on certain properties isn’t unimaginable or unreasonable nor would we be the first country to set limits on the use property for environmental reasons. There are currently limitations on pretty much every aspect of your life (including your property) and implementing addition steps to ensure the protection of our environment isn’t unreasonable.

  18. Mikey says:

    sadly this will be ignored and cleared right away!

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