PACT to spend $21M to rescue beaches

| 06/12/2021 | 105 Comments
Premier Wayne Panton addresses Parliament

(CNS): The PACT Government has committed to investing a significant amount of money in sustainability and climate resiliency. Premier Wayne Panton said the Cayman Islands no longer has the time to ignore what is happening and not do something to build more resiliency and mitigate for what is coming.

Speaking in Parliament on Friday evening, he revealed that $21 million has been budgeted over the next two years to deal with the ongoing problem of beach erosion, especially on Seven Mile Beach. He said the money had to be found because of over-development on that beach and government would be seeking a contribution from those beachfront owners.

He said this was an example of the challenges the country faces and the potential damage to its resources if the issues are ignored.

“We are having to budget $21 million to do beach re-nourishment because of excess erosion, aggravated by too much development in the active beach zone on Seven Mile Beach, our national asset,” the premier said. “If we don’t start doing something about the problems today, the problems tomorrow are going to take a heck of a lot more to address.”

Panton told any owners who might be listening, “We do intend to ask for contributions to these costs in addressing these issues because you can’t have the benefit of living on the edge of paradise and not expect to contribute to some of the problems caused by the kind of activities carried out and the way development has occurred there.”

He added, “If we lose Seven Mile Beach, that is a major, major asset of this country and won’t just be a loss to the tourism industry but to our culture.”

The southern end of Seven Mile Beach is suffering significant beach loss and what was once a seasonal shifting of sands is now clearly erosion. While efforts are being made with seawalls, it is extremely unlikely that these will help. The situation for the Marriott has gone well beyond building a protective wall as their existing seawall is already in the ocean.

Despite this commitment to addressing the problems on Seven Mile Beach, where many projects over the years have been approved that have concrete structures, such as pools and decks, far too close to the ocean, the premier confirmed that PACT would be continuing with the PlanCayman project initiated by the previous planning minister.

This initiative takes a piecemeal approach to the review of the national development plan, which has also been criticised for being for too developer centric. Panton has previously said he wanted to take a more holistic approach to the country’s future development plan, but instead his Ministry of Sustainability and Climate Resiliency, in partnership with the planning ministry, will pursue this PPM policy.

He made no mention of changing the current planning law to prevent the Central Planning Authority from waiving ocean setbacks for concrete structures on oceanfront projects, which, despite clear evidence of erosion, continues from West Bay to South Sound, where new projects that are not even complete are already seeing inundation from the sea.

During his address, as he talked about his new climate ministry, Panton said, “We must take some bold action.” Maintaining that this was a necessity, he said that Cayman could not shrug its shoulders and say we didn’t contribute much to climate change so we are not going to do anything about it.

He spoke about the review of the climate policy and risk assessment that is now underway and will help to reform the existing policy, which was developed more than a decade ago and never implemented.

Panton also said that the National Energy Policy needed work. According to that plan, Cayman should achieve a target of generating 70% of its energy or renewable resources in 15 years, but the reality is that at present less that 6% of our electricity comes from green sources such as solar or wind.

The premier said there would be a considerable amount of cross-ministry work in relation to sustainability because we are the last generation that can do something about climate change.

See Panton’s address on CIGTV below:

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Category: Climate Change, Policy, Politics, Science & Nature

Comments (105)

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  1. WhaYaSay says:

    CPA, stop approving plans that cause this chaos!

  2. Anon says:

    It would be nice to be able to use some of the northern and eastern beaches which are ankle deep in trash ☹️. Is there any money to clean them up?

  3. truth says:

    The bible and our forefather’s said a foolish man build his house abound the sand now we have to fix it! that’s wrong, but it they do it should be on stilts so everything can free flow like intended.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Stop eating all the damn squabs!

  5. Beaumont Zodecloun says:

    Throughout most of the history of the Cayman Islands, the beach flora has held the ground/sand/beach. What did we think would happen? On all three islands, in places where there is lone sand, it shifts all year around, and some years with big storms, it takes it away and deposits it somewhere else.

    I think the best we can do is to preserve that flora which holds the native sand and resist those who purchase large tracts of beach land who wish to wipe it clean.

    • Anonymous says:

      Trouble is our politicians find it hard to resist all that paper greenery when faced with a decision on whether or not to allow destruction of real greenery.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I would start by asking the property owners to kick in the duty waivers the properties received when they were built. Then CIG can consider giving this new gift to the wealthy.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Its like fixing a leaky old boat that’s rotting out. Besides, where do they think they’re going to get an unlimited supply of native sand from? Fix the damn cause Wayne, not the effect!

  8. Anonymous says:

    What a HUGE waste of money!! Can you say REFERENDUM!!!! Let the people decide what to spend huge amounts of money on!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    They need to get a pumping dredger and pump the sand back onto the beach like they do everywhere else.

    • Anonymous says:

      Very few places have the kind of drop off that takers the sand hundreds of feet down just a few hundred yards from shore. A pumping dredger is not practical in that situation.

    • Sarasota Steve says:

      2:08, They did that on the west coast of Florida (Manasota Key) a few years ago and when the first really big hurricane hit the sand was washed out to sea again. $20 million back into the sea.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yup. Will only work if there is substantial local vegetation to anchor the sand. Red Birch. Sea grape. Cocoplum. You know, all that stuff the developers so callously removed, and which the new owners refuse to plant in front of their properties.

        • Anonymous says:

          When my Mother was a child, there was lone sand in front of the family house, and there are photos of her and her friends running down the sand to the sea. There was also Sea Grape, Mangrove and other bushes. Today that place is ironshore, which was always under the sand.

          She said that the Storm of ’32 took the sand inland on the Brac and that is evident by the high rise houses are built upon on the Eastern North Side. This part of the Brac is nearly unchanged, except for the Port and Spot Bay Community Park.

          We used to live within nature, and now we seem to battle it. Agree with you that native anchoring plants should be preserved everywhere around all three islands.

          If nature allows us to keep our sand, it will be because we helped her by sparing her plants.

  10. Anonymous says:

    If I was Government I wouldn’t put a cent down unless they pull back to the high water mark. What was planning approval in the past has nothing to do with Climate change. So it was okay in the past but we are experiencing water increasing in height, is that not so? It’s happening in Miami, Fla. So why pretend it was planning? People who invested in hotels took a risk and uncertainty.
    We are offering too much money to pump sand on their portion of the beach. That money could buy beach in other parts of the Cayman Islands for public use. Does anyone need to really use a public access if this is done. Let them pay to fill in their own property.
    The only reason they are pushing for Government to pay is the argument that locals use the beach. I have never used a public access for rich people to look down on me or my family. I go to Public beaches.

  11. Yes that house and pool/patio at Marriott root of most of problem.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Various owners had already trucked in foreign sand under cover of darkness earlier this year and that too went over the edge. There was a barge of this sand at port in Mar/April. The hydrology of SMB just flushes it over the edge of our west wall feathering it down to 2000ft. We might as well burn the money, if that’s the action plan. It’s time for some decisive leadership towards poor legacy CPA decision-making, and vigilante remediation.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Clueless unqualified nobody government policies caused these problems.

    And now they have the solutions, more taxes and costs for everyone else to pay.

    And you morons keep voting these fools back into office. Mickey Mouse country pretending they are democratic and know what they are doing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Can we somehow blame the Gays for this?

      That always makes the most sense. Vengeful God and whatnot.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “ …the premier confirmed that PACT would be continuing with the PlanCayman project initiated by the previous planning minister.

    …in partnership with the planning ministry, will pursue this PPM policy.”

    When will the vote of no confidence be introduced or when will Wanye realise he is not the guys for this job? He’s better suited to meet ups with CMR and call it losers who lunch.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Instead of bitchin’ and complaining, we all need to do our part to help. I just checked eCay and there are more than 20 properties on SMB listed for sale at prices over $5 million.
    If we each went out and bought one of those government would collect the money they need to fix the beach in short order.
    I personally have my eye on the $12.8M corner unit at the Watermark that is listed as “hot” and will give Wayne $960,000 in land transfer tax income. I just have to wait and see which bank will give me a loan for $13,800,000 (buyer has to pay the transfer fee) which will immediately generate another “bank loan fee” payable to government taking their total income over $1 million.

  16. C'Mon Now! says:

    This is a bad plan.

    There needs to be a managed retreat from the beach in the areas where buildings are too close.

    It is easy to complain they say, but what would be better than dumping new sand in front of old seawalls?

    How about negotiating with the owners of the Marriott to demolish the current building and rebuild it further back on the current carpark. Gov’t would need to give something up such as letting them build 10 or 12 stories to make the economics work. In the current tourist environment a deal could be done that would make economic sense.

    For the condos like Regal Beach they may just need to demolish and abandon their front units for the sake of the property values as a whole. CIG should be trying to broker deals for this happen.

    Mr. Dart he can take one for the team and just move his house, wall and Gazebo a ways back. It will be nice to have something new anyway…

  17. Anonymous says:

    I commend government on this initiative however it will be a totally wasted investment of the peoples money if you firstly do not solve the problem and the root cause of the loss of the sand and beach on the southern end of SMB. Cayman has unique sand like no other area in the Caribbean because it contains a high percentage of shell and coral. If you simply re-nourish the beach without solving the problem the sand will just wash away in a couple of seasons. This is an easy problem to resolve for no where near the amount of the budgeted $21m they wish waste on this initiative.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Bottom line. The only ‘change’ that Wayne is bringing to the table is borrowing more money that we will have to pay in the future and absolutely no change to the planning department, the planning laws, the planning regulations or the way the CPA is allowed to operate. That is not a solution. It is compounding the problem.

  19. Cym says:

    They are try … its worth trying to save our beaches. But it makes no sense if you can’t even park by a BEACH ACCESS to safely reach the beach! So I hope they buy land too for parking.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I need experts in this area to explain to me because I don’t quite understand. How does one “fix” the beach if sea walls are still present? I hope the solution isn’t to simply import sand from somewhere else and just dump it along the 7mb. Eventually, won’t we be back to where we are today?

  21. Anonymous says:

    How can Wayne ask the land owners to contribute when it was Government who gave permission to build there ?

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you may find that not everyone got permission. Some may have just got “permission.” Whether after the fact or through “irregular” channels.

    • Anonymous says:

      you have permission to punch yourself in the face, but it is on you if you do.
      basically just because the Government doesn’t have the legal stance to tell you no, you still have personal responsibility for the consequences your actions cause.

    • says:

      Because they asked permission for their purposes

    • Hubert says:

      12:30, Simple, he can ask the landowners on SMB to contribute because in the last 20 years the value of their properties has gone up astronomically.

      When they sell, which many do and then buy another property they make windfall profits for doing absolutely nothing. Hell, not as if they even pay property taxes like one does on the coast in Florida.

      Land owners MUST contribute as they have a vested interest on SMB.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because the other option is not putting back the beach that they get the most benefit from.

      Personally I’d rather Govt. started the re-nourishment at the extreme northern end of SMB. That area is also experiencing significant erosion (in front of the 4-way stop seawall, etc.) and has a public beach at that far northern end so lets start by putting the people’s sand on the people’s beach.

      Unless you’re willing to chip in some cash to start at the southern end?

  22. Anonymous says:

    Gov’t will be seeking contribution from those owners. So, you’ll invoice them and forget about the bill like with everything else?

    Greedy developers over-developing and fleecing the nation are now able to double down on that by having the public purse ‘repair’ the beach at their properties, for what will amount to the exclusive use of their guests (once it is restored)? Is that correct?

    Here’s a beach rescue plan, have these properties repair their own beachfront and instead, use that 21 million to buy beachfront properties that becomes available, adding to the crown holdings. Then keep them there!.

    Or, just gift the 21 million to the National Trust over a specified period. I’m sure we would see much better results.

    Amend the laws, reign in the CPA. You’re hired to lead but it’s like you people just don’t have a clue.

    • Anonymous says:

      I ain’t paying shit until ya’ll pay up your outstanding garbage and school fees.

      • Anonymous says:

        whataboutism maybe your favourite strategy to engage an argument 8:00 ? 😐

      • Anonymous says:

        Nice try, but I’m not taking the bait.

      • Anonymous says:

        8,:00 am, don’t you know Big Mac added 2 % on to the import duties to cover the Garbage fees.that made sense because lots of people was not paying but everyone has to eat, so that was the way to get money for the garbage fees.

      • Anonymous says:

        do you realize how stupid this comment is and what kind of light it truly casts your character in ?

        There are no garbage fees for residential collection, (condos and commercial yes) and there are no fees for Caymanian school children attending local schools.

        Come up with another reason that you think validates everyone else to be paying the greater percentage to enhance your property 🤡

        • Anonymous says:

          Time to put my 🤡 🎩 on and wear it for the rest of the day, – you were just that little too late 9:17, well done 8:00, well done indeed 👍

          OP (7:56)

        • Anonymous says:

          Tell you what, I’ll chip in when the HSA reaches a zero balance with Caymanians.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s just debt issues by the U.K. it’s not real money like gold or bitcoin.

      Costs them nothing to issues more credit

  23. Anonymous says:

    It is a global problem. Developers buy politicians and civil servants in order to get planning approvals and concessions for developments that destroy natural beauty and the environment. Could that explain any part of why government is not planning to change the laws that allow this to happen??

    • Anonymous says:

      The laws do not allow this to happen. Civil servants, politicians, and unfit enforcement authorities allow this to happen.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually the current Development and Planning Law and the regulations made pursuant to that law allow civil servants to sign off on, and the CPA and the PAT to authorise, these disasters despite non-conformity with sound planning and environmental policies. That law and the associated regulations have been deliberately changed over the past 20 years to make it easier for the large developers to destroy our islands without any thought of either the environment or future generations of Caymanians.

  24. Anonymous says:

    The most ridiculous thing is that the developers responsible for the destruction have sold up and taken their profits and have come back time and again looking for duty and work permit concessions so that they can destroy more and successive governments have simply handed them concessions so that they can destroy more. Perhaps that had something to do with ‘real estate consulting’ and a free condo or two??

  25. Anonymous says:

    Ridiculous. This is window dressing. We got into this situation because over the past 2 decades the developers have been handed control over planning related legislation and the authorities that are supposed to ensure the public interest in planning and development issues have done the opposite. Throwing $21M at these problems will be a waste of money that solves nothing unless the people who are owned by the developers are removed from the government payroll in the relevant department, the planning law and regulations are changed to limit destruction of our environment, and the wide discretion to ignore the public interest now given to the CPA and the PAT is removed.

  26. Yup says:

    Tear the whole waterfront buildings and see mother nature do her thing with out money

    It’s too late cayman sold out longtime so u are the fool that cause it to go in the first place

  27. Anonymous says:

    So knowing what we know now, structures on the beach are STILL being approved too close to the sea, so who is at fault?

  28. Anonymous says:

    Panton told any owners who might be listening, “We do intend to ask for contributions to these costs in addressing these issues because you can’t have the benefit of living on the edge of paradise and not expect to contribute to some of the problems caused by the kind of activities carried out and the way development has occurred there.”

    Sorry to tell you this bobo, but these people didn’t get rich by handing over money voluntarily. They are more likely to tell you that they already contributed (and I might be likely to agree with them on this) when they paid government 7.5% transfer tax on their multi-million dollar property.

    One simple solution is to increase the land transfer tax on SMB properties from 7.5% to 8%, and government pledge to spend 1% of all taxes collected on the sale of SMB property for the next five years on beach re-nourishment.

    • Miami Dave says:

      9:25, Perhaps a property tax for all places along SMB. In other parts of the developed world buyers pay a tax on purchase and then pay a yearly property tax. The property tax would be strictly used for beach re-nourishment.

      • Anonymous says:

        “The property tax would be strictly used for beach re-nourishment”

        Like the environmental disposal fees for cars and tyres are spent?

        Like the environmental tourist tax is spent?

      • Anonymous says:

        @12:41 Used for beach re-nourishment? I think it would be used instead to nourish the growing beast aka ‘Welfare State’ being created. That’s where the votes are at.

  29. Anonymous says:

    the sands have been shifting for decades…please tell me one or any development which has caused the erosion????

    • Anonymous says:

      Walk the entire strip of 7mile beach and when you suddenly have to walk in water, look to see which property’s beach wall is beside you in the water.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think you and everyone else may have an inalienable prescriptive right to walk that stretch of coast without getting your feet wet (just sayin).

    • Anonymous says:

      Marnie Turner’s house, as was predicted at the time it was built.

      • Anonymous says:

        Was it built in compliance with all legal requirements at the time (without any particular grace or favor)? This is an important question, and should be answered fully before any public money is spent addressing the consequences.

      • Yes that house and pool/patio at Marriott root of most of problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Turner House?

    • The marriott is the biggest problem ever since they added the patio and pool.Take them out and just maybe mother nature will help build back the beach.Adding new sand will only be a band aid until the cause of the problem is taken out PERRIOD!!!

  30. Anonymous says:

    owners will not pay a penny and don’t have too. go ask the planning dept why they approved the developments….if you believe in this over-development fairytale….

    • Anonymous says:

      Fine let them do without sand.

    • Anonymous says:

      9:14, Then watch the value of the owners property asset decline rapidly when they no longer have a beach out front.

      You are living a fairytale if you think the asset will not decline with no beach.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Probably less than Mac spent on all his beaches over the years.

  32. Anonymous says:

    A prime reason for “…the way development has occurred there” is because government granted permission for it to happen.
    In regard to seawalls: they can be a major factor contributing to erosion of sandy beaches. In the case of the damaged beaches to the seaward side of the Seven Mile Beach seawalls certainly contributed to the erosion. Seawalls may protect the sand and structures landward of the seawall; however, they can be very detrimental to a sandy beach to the seaward side of the structure. A natural beach will advance and retreat and the shoreline will meander according to the littoral and near shore hydrodynamics. The beach may erode for a time and retreat, but if left in its natural unimpeded state the beach has good potential to recapture the lost sand. But once this natural process is confounded by a seawall, the beach can lose its ability to regain sand naturally. Seawalls reflect to seaward the energy of waves and this amplifies the effect of retreating waves and amplifies the scouring effect of the waves. This carries sand away from the beach and washes the sand further out to sea than if the seawall was not there. Flanking erosion and longshore currents caused by seawalls accelerate erosion of adjacent beaches and impede the re-nourishment of the beaches because the seawalls significantly alter the littoral and nearshore wave and current action. When I saw some of the seawalls under construction along Seven Mile Beach and other sandy beach areas and so close to the shoreline I was aghast. I spoke to MLA’s and wrote letters. The result: crickets. Now we pay the price of our government not getting proper advice about the potential detrimental effect of the seawalls for which they granted permission.

    • Anonymous says:

      The result: crickets. Now we pay the price of our government not getting proper advice about the potential detrimental effect of the seawalls for which they granted permission.

      I think on numerous occasions they did the right advice, they just chose to ignore it

  33. MackB says:

    Where is all of this money coming from? If the government is projecting deficits then they need to limit their expenditures to existing and mandatory commitments and to projects that have projected short term returns on the investments.

    • James says:

      They are borrowing for everything. We will be crippled with debt when they are finished with this experiment.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Charge the owners on the beach an environmental tax, the property values on SMB have rocketed if there is no beach they lose out, why does government need to bail the rich out.

    • Anonymous says:

      @8:00 has your property value drastically increased in the last two years? I would guess it has, like most Cayman property. Hopefully you’re also willing to pay property tax to support things like Stipends for every one!

  35. Anonymous says:

    I do hope you collect every penny of the $21M from those persons who built sea walls to protect their investments that destroyed SMB and not like the outstanding fees on PRs.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Hmm, – it looks Mr Premier has stepped up to the plate with his big boy pants on. Will he be able to swing the big boys bat and bring one a runner home for the team ? I really hope so, but reading and trying to fully understand what he’s implementing and the process I can’t help but think he’ll return to dug out without a hit ⚾️

  37. Anonymous says:

    Private sector creates the problem. CIG to the rescue.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually. Failures by the CIG to impose the rule of law on those that prefer the rule of dollars, is what caused the problem.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Bad idea. Sounds to me like hotels have lobbied to make CIG pay for something that they directly are responsible for.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Were some of these developments not built in breach of requirements? Rather than the taxpayer paying (it will cost more than the $21 million) should the properties built too close to the sea not pay, and then be fined another $21 million for good measure?

  40. Anonymous says:

    I simply don’t get it. Wayne is a good guy, he speaks of middle out economics instead of trickle down but then you walk into a store and the sharks that control commerce here are still charging CI$190.00 for a pair of kids sneakers. The sharks that supply electricity are still fleecing consumers. Now the public has to underwrite the poor investment decisions of greedy developers to the tune of 20 million. Where is the change?

    • lil' bobo in East End says:

      I don’t get the Wayne love at this point.

      You are what your record says you are. We can see that what he says on the campaign trail isn’t how he rolls.

      Look back at the meaningless resignation from the PPM over McKeeva’s failure to resign. Watch someone for long enough and they will reveal their true character.

      Is Wayne the good-guy environmentalist who supports equal rights and stands firm to his spoken/written words like #sheissupported.

      Or is he they guy who puts Mac back in the speakers chair, pilots a 60ft Hateras, gives cash handouts to all and sundry and decides to waste $20m on re-nourishment.

      We have observed hypocrisy, weakness and mis-management from Wayne ever since he became premier. I know lots of people give him the benefit of the doubt “because of who he has to work with” but that was his choice and it is clear he is over-matched and fumbling to stay in control.

      Lie down with dogs and you will end up with fleas…

      • Big Bobo In West Bay says:

        Lil Bro, Get back on point. We not talking bout love for Wayne at this point but love for SMB and bringing it out of its death spiral.

        What is your solution to disappearing SMB? No need to play politics here.

        Did you enjoy your fresh turtle stew last night?

        • lil' bobo in East End says:

          Hey Big Bro,

          I am on point Anonymous @6:44pm was saying they doesn’t understand how things like this can be happening when “Wayne is a good guy”.

          I’m not playing politics.

          My point is Wayne hasn’t followed through on what he said he would do.

          I don’t think it is a good idea to buy sand from someone for $20m (what could go wrong there) and toss it on the beach when the wave action most likely takes it away over time.

          As for my plan quite a few people have said it above. I’d happily make the long drive to staycation at a new better Marriott in 4 years that was 200-300ft further back with a nice sandy beach in front. Bunch of condos need to go as well and maybe CIG should buy some and mash them to create more space. The West Indian Club can just need fall into the sea… but that is more of a Christmas Wish than a plan.

          No turtle but I did have fresh lobster earlier this week.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Ha ha. Might as well piss it up against a wall.

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