Premier wants input on planning law review

| 21/03/2022 | 33 Comments
Cayman News Service
WaterMark construction site in January 2021

(CNS): Premier Wayne Panton had no explanation, when asked on Friday, for why no one with experience or knowledge in the areas of sustainable development and climate change mitigation was appointed to the committee reviewing the planning legislation. However, Panton said he wants to see input from groups concerned about these issues or people with that experience.

Speaking at a recorded press briefing, Panton told CNS that the panel will not have “exclusive authority” over what changes are made to the law but they will form the basis for the drafting instructions.

Following the publication in a Cabinet note at the beginning of this month that revealed the line-up of the committee, there have been significant concerns that most of the members are connected to the development and construction sector.

Jay Ebanks is the planning minister, but Panton has previously stated that he would be supervising the review of the National Development Plan. Although this is a separate exercise from the need to modernise the legislation, both are intrinsically linked to the PACT Government’s stated objective of creating a more sustainable country and the premier’s own portfolio of sustainability and climate resilience.

Development and planning are at the forefront of how to become climate resilient, preserve our beaches and protect critical habitats, such as mangroves. The present planning law was designed to facilitate profits rather than green development and provides no protection from the impact of climate change.

There had been public expectation that once PACT turned its attention to reviewing the inadequacies of the existing planning legislation, sustainability would be at the heart of the review. However, no one from Panton’s ministry was appointed to the committee and CNS has learned that the Department of Environment was unaware of the appointment of the panel until it was made public.

However, Panton said that he would ensure that input from those with knowledge about sustainability would be considered.

“The panel does not have exclusive authority to make the decisions and recommendations as to what changes are required to the law to reflect the concerns,” he said. “They will be making recommendations that will then form the basis of drafting instructions, which will be reflected ultimately in a revised bill. We will at all of those stages still be in a position to take comments, take suggestions from all groups.”

The premier said that once the legislation is in bill form, it will go out for public consultation. He also said there could be an extended period for comment and that he would ensure that climate change issues would be considered before it goes before Parliament.

“The opportunity will be there and I will certainly be looking… to ensure that any groups that want to have the opportunity to comment are allowed to have that opportunity, and those comments and those perspectives are brought to bear and considered by caucus and Cabinet in respect to changes to that law,” he added.

But Panton gave no explanation as to why no technical experts from his ministry or the DoE or private sector experts involved in the green economy were appointed to the panel.

Commenters on CNS and across social media expressed deep concern about the panel’s line-up and that critical issues are unlikely to be addressed. A priority in mitigating the problem of rising sea levels is the need for much longer coastal setbacks that cannot be waived by planning, as the DoE has said on numerous occasions that the current requirements are far from adequate.

Other issues that may not receive the appropriate amount of consideration include reducing the number of parking spaces required on developments, a requirement to retain a specified amount of natural habitat on land being developed, mandatory provision for green technologies and sustainable building methods, enforcement of the law and genuine consequences for breaching the law.

See the premier’s response to the CNS questions below on CIGTV:

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Category: Climate Change, development, Local News, Science & Nature

Comments (33)

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  1. Truthsayer says:

    Are there no honest politicians in the Cayman Islands?
    Judging from the last twenty years,……….Apparently not!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wishy washy Wayne was actually correct in saying the committee won’t have ‘exclusive authority’ over Planning law changes. Historically, members of the cabinet have systematically vetoed any environmentally positive changes in the Planning law.
    This newly formed committee is just another layer to buffer cabinet members from any public blowback. We already know that any changes made in the law will be to the benefit of certain stakeholders on the committee.
    So Mr. Premier, perhaps the words you meant to say were that the committee will have ‘absolute authority’ instead?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Well he should have put the planning department in his Ministry then!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone noticed that the streets are filled with garbage? Far worse that the last gov. Rwanda figured it out with a way lower budget it just seems like nobody cares about long term solutions. Even picking up the existing garbage why can’t we organize the prison to pick it up which I’m sure they’d be happy to do. We wonder why we need work permit holders here, our people just aren’t accountable, all you have to do is look to government

    • Anonymous says:

      I live in Prospect, and have to give fair dues to Sabrina Turner. She is making sure the district is kept clean, and addressing issues that needed to be dealt with a long time ago.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Can no one is this administration make a decision on the betterment and future of Cayman ? Nonsense.

  6. Frustrated Caymanian says:

    @CNS it’s time to do an article on how much these “elected” officials are actually making per month , per diem etc etc etc…then maybe the voting public will see…it’s all a lip service. There is no genuine concern about Cayman or it’s future. It’s all about their paycheck and re-election. Guaranteed the Muppet of tourism has allocated a portion of his salary to ensure re-election. Fish frys and whatever it takes in his district to be voted in again. Little McKeeva is setting himself up for a mega retirement with absolutely no concern in regards to his constiuents or his country he so vehemently claims to protect. It is with transparency, hopefully that the voting public will make educated decisions. PACT the horse trading two faced government has to go.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Like a old vinyl record, if you play this article backwards it keeps repeating “Build DART Build”

  8. Anonymous says:

    Wayne the waffle king

    We um ah well ya see

    Whatevs Wayne whatevs

  9. Anonymous says:

    Because Wayne hasn’t a clue…have we not learnt that after all these years? He didn’t have a clue when he was in politics before and he sure as hell doesn’t now as Premier. There is no one because they would actually look out for the well being of our islands, the environment, and our community which would not line the pockets of our MPs.

  10. Courtney Platt says:

    Why… even after Hurricane Ivan so brutally reminded us why the Florida Keys have long required coastal buildings to be up on stilts of a certain height… why have we permitted coastal construction to continue on the ground as before? Building on stilts should be our requirement and specialty by now! This allows the energy to carry through, depositing sand where we need it to go, instead of being reflected back to sea while scouring beneath the foundation and breaking the house. Come on man! This is costing all of us in unnecessary damage and higher insurance rates. There’s no denying it now, higher sea levels are on the way. Stilts are clearly the best defense for the rise, storm surge and floods.

    • Tony Stank says:

      Mom’s due to come round again soon and make it all right.

      Climate change is Mother Earth’s defense against the greed and hypocrisy of the human race.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Why no one with experience or knowledge in the areas of sustainable development and climate change mitigation was appointed to the committee reviewing the planning legislation? Easy. BECAUSE WAYNE ISNT RUNNING THE GOVERNMENT. Keep hiding Wayne, only 3 years left.

  12. Ducking and weaving Wayne says:

    Wayne ducks another question. He says what he thinks sounds good then bobs and weaves and waffles. The committee was agreed in Cabinet and before that would have been discussed in their Caucus. So he had lots of opportunities for input into the selection, especially as Premier and champion of the environment. His response was nonsense and like so many things recently one wonders who is really in charge of this Government. At this point, he has become Ducking Wayne instead of Premier Wayne. Sad. Really sad.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The Roads Law needs reviewing also. How can NRA build a road without consultation with the public or landowners and then never pay compensation! or those few with political connections get paid excessive amounts. Didn’t the AG highlight that years ago and what happened? Nothing!

  14. Anonymous says:

    another bad day at the office for pact and wayne….

  15. Noname says:

    Cayman and climate resilience ! This HAS to be a joke ! So far the island has been like a chicken coop rooting for a KFC mega franchise. While that would be a welcome change I fear no environmentally conscious and honest person would want his/her name associated with the utter mess at BCU , the complete karbunkle on a leaking floater that is OfReg .

    We do have on island in the private sector some concerned environmentalists who have been preaching in the desert under the previous administration, trying to help design new policies , only to see these them shelved and gathering dust . Due to recent modifications to the CORE agreement which greatly advantages CUC and its cronies (not even its shareholders) the rooftop solar development has come to a grinding stop . At this stage only the capacity used by CUC (which is whatever CUC’s estimates it is , gives you credit , effectively leaving sole arbiter over CORE’s future! ) .

    The problem has been escalated all the way to Ofreg and resulted into … no action ! How do you guys want to grow solar power’s presence on island with such captive agencies ?

    If ever Cayman wonders why solar installers are moving their activity off island , environmentalists are staying cautiously away it needs to look into a mirror. Who will in good conscience validate projects that only allow for ever smaller footprint for panels , designed most of the time by architects that have no inkling of the island’s constraints and challenges (corrosion, salty air , hurricanes) .

  16. Anonymous says:

    Cayman’s self proclaimed environmentalists are unable to check their emotions at the door. They have no place on committees such as this.

  17. Anonymous says:


  18. JTB says:

    All a load of hot air.

    We can see very clearly what this government’s real view on development and the environment is from the appointments to CPA and the decisions which that body has since made.

    Mr Panton is I am afraid taking us all for fools. We don’t need to listen to what he says. We can see perfectly well what he has already done.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I implore everyone to read this article from BBC Travel. It shows what can be done with a mostly educated population of 90,000 and politicians who are willing (and able) to work with them. Some of the measures taken may seem somewhat draconian but are designed to reduce man’s negative impact on their environment.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I thought I saw a dog chasing it’s tail round in circles and I thought to myself, ‘There’s a laughable dog chasing it’s tail round in circles’ and then someone corrected me, it was Wayne Panton trying to justify and reaffirm ‘why no one with experience or knowledge in the areas of sustainable development and climate change mitigation was appointed to the committee reviewing the planning legislation’ 🐕🥺

  21. Anonymous says:

    Another disappointment .

  22. Anonymous says:

    PACT is clearly just paying lip service when it comes to the environment, sustainable population growth and sustainable development. It was a good talking point to get votes during the election cycle. The reality of things in Cayman is that money talks and the environment pays the price. Maybe there needs to be another climate summit so that a large deligation of incompetents can attend to get some pictures taken.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Man, we really shouldn’t have to seek outside consultationl, on what constitutes a conflict of interest when it comes to government Board appointments, oversight functions, and approval tests. There is an entire planet of best industry practice, and Integrity Watch NGO checklists that we ought to weigh against our current setup. Most of our Boards are preloaded with complicit “yes man” shills, as though that would be a pro-business desirable plus. Yet this is precisely the bad look that haunts us as the FATF accuses and comments about persistent government corruption. They aren’t wrong. The Financial Sector leaders, should be very concerned about PACTs post-election mantra of integrity. Hasn’t seemed to materialise so far.

  24. Anonymous says:

    we don’t want any tree huggers on our panel, that’s why so put a cork in it.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Fire. Aim. Ready.

    Wonder if one must hold a Doctorate in Embarrassment as a prerequisite to representing us as an Elected leader?

    How these clowns get out of bed in the morning is beyond me.

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