Road plan poses further threat to pristine habitat

| 01/07/2022 | 57 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): The National Conservation Council has confirmed that the extension of a farm road in North Side will need an environmental impact assessment as the proposed route would take it through some of Cayman’s most pristine remaining forest land. Flying in the face of the PACT Government’s policy of limiting development in untouched habitat, the NRA wants to extend Hutland Road.

Experts at the Department of Environment believe that this land is some of the most bio-diverse habitat in the Cayman Islands, which could be placed under threat once it is made accessible.

Speaking at the National Conservation Council general meeting on Wednesday, DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie explained that the working group of the NCC had reviewed the westward road extension proposed by the planning ministry.

The proposal fell under the screening requirement to determine if an environmental impact assessment is needed. And according to the screening conducted by the DoE in April, despite proposed modifications, the road still poses significant concern and will need an EIA. As a result, the issue was before the council for ratification.

Ebanks-Petrie said that in addition to the direct threat posed by the road itself cutting through this precious and diverse natural environment, a major concern was that this would open up undeveloped land for non-farming development, particularly land not suitable or targetted for farming.

Explaining where the road is proposed to go, she said it passes across the North Side ridge, an elevation of about 20 to 60 feet above sea level, comprising primary forest that supports extremely diverse flora and fauna. In the screening, the DoE terrestrial experts said the route is adjacent to pristine undisturbed dry forest, which is an extension of the Mastic forest type and contains protected species, such as the black mastic tree and several dozen forest birds.

“These higher elevation forests are extremely limited in area on Grand Cayman and therefore extremely valuable,” the DoE said in its screening. “The Mastic forests have been documented as having the highest
plant biodiversity in all of the Cayman Islands. Historically this area was known to support parrot nesting.” The western section of the road also passes through black mangrove wetlands and a pond.

“We are extremely concerned about the effects of pushing a road through here both from the construction of the road and all the edge effects that will likely happen, but also the impact of the road on land use in the area,” Ebanks-Petrie told the council. “Once roads get pushed through that opens up and acts as a driver for the development of land that has previously been inaccessible for development.”

She explained that the decision-makers will need solid information about this diverse valuable habitat before making a decision about the necessity of this road versus the threat it poses. “There are some huge implications as a result of this… The biological and ecological value of the area is very high,” Ebanks-Petrie said, as she stressed the need for an EIA.

The council voted to confirm the EIA and the creation of an Environmental Assessment Board, which should include the Department of Agriculture. But the proposed road goes way beyond making farmland accessible.

The issue of roads opening up pristine land is also a major concern surrounding the EIA for the final stretch of the East-West Arterial Road, which poses much wider threats than those directly associated with its construction. With the confirmation that government wants to take that road all the way to Frank Sound across the Central Wetland area, more land inside that critical habitat will be at risk. Even before the EIA has been done, the land is already appearing on real estate listings.

A recent CIREBA posting for 613 acres of mangrove wetland stretching from the North Sound to Bodden Town was promoted as being “within the growth corridor with the new East-West Bypass”, with “huge subdivision potential”. This listing caused a significant backlash on social media and environmental activist groups are desperately worried about the problems that roads continue to cause for Cayman’s dwindling natural resources.

In a recent interview with CNS, Premier Wayne Panton, the minister for sustainability, told us that he wanted to see future development in Cayman confined to existing man-modified areas. However, the East-West Arterial and now the extension of Hutland Road are two examples of how easily that policy will be undermined.


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

Comments (57)

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  1. Anonimous says:

    This investor who told a fund manager she had $300,000 to invest ultimately decided to invest $950,000 and lost it all

    https://i.stuff.co.nz/business/129196972/woman-complains-after-making-245000-loss-on-fund-investment

    An investor registry with investors insurance would certainly give investors a peace of mind of security if they lost there money

    How about requiring the Monetary Authority Investment and Securities Division and the Stock Exchange to have a Registry that also require investors acknowledge the risk associated with investments

  2. Anonimous says:

    What about the un- insured money lost to theft and fraud from business and personal banking Credit Cards, Savings, Checking Accounts and Fix Deposits?

    Some banking consumers are claiming that fraudsters contact them claiming to be bank employees only to get there banking details and drain there account of all there funds or withdraw all there money

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.fox5dc.com/news/more-local-business-owners-report-money-stolen-from-truist-accounts.amp

    Others have claimed that hackers hack there phones and computers stealing there electronic banking details and drain there account or withdraw all there money

    In both cases, banks with un-insured funds held on Credit Cards, Fix Depisits, Savings and Checking Accounts refuse to re-imburst consumers because the funds were un-insured

    Maybe a Monetary Authority Banking Registry should be created requiring insurance on all these types of accounts to reduce banking consumers from losing money on unsolved financial crimes

  3. Anonymous says:

    If Caymanians want to truly “save” pristine land from all development then their only course is to buy the land and own it. If not then it’s not yours to say what happens to it is it? If you have land that is developed(house) then you have no say in what anyone else can do with their own land do you? Caymanians get together and buy your land back or quit whining and complaining about what you don’t own anymore. Your true spirit is showing.

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  4. Anonimous says:

    With the large number of un-insured investments in the Cayman Islands, if the Government introduces a Home Owners and and an Investment and Securities Registry that requires Investor Insurance, it would certaunly create lots of administrative jobs both at the Monetary Authority and the Insurance Companies

    Just saying that if unemploied Caymanians want well paying administrative jobs, this is a viable and practical solution that would create new jobs………..

  5. Anonymous says:

    this is just stupid. ANY land that isn’t developed on, can be called “pristine” land.

    this is just a play on words for hippies. Who want to keep status quo, then complain that the traffic is bad.

    We need that road. Period.

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  6. Anonimous says:

    A Monetary Authority Investment and Securities Registery along with a Stock Exchange Registry that requires each individual investment and its investors be registered requiring each Investors to purchase an Investors Insurance that must be registered for all uninsured investments, would certainly reduce fraudulent schemes like this

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/nationalpost.com/news/bernie-madoffs-son-and-wife-claim-they-didnt-know-of-65b-swindle/wcm/b4e50b2d-0b00-4994-b329-cbfd2285e37a/amp/

    and reduce investors from losing significant amounts of money

  7. Anonimous says:

    With so many investment companies in the Cayman Islands being charged with fraud and investors losing money as a result of these funds with frauds, maybe our Securities and Investment laws and our Stock Exchange laws should also be reviewd and changed to create a registry for Shares, Stocks, Mutual Fund and Hedge Funds to require there Investment to be Insured and each investor and there investment and insurance registered

    https://caymannewsservice.com/2021/02/new-offshore-cops-seize-200m-dodgy-cash/

    This would certainly help investors who lose money on uninsured investments to recover there money

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  8. Anonimous says:

    With 75% of the land in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac being undeveloped, a proper EIA Environmental Assessment Impact for a structured development in North Side, East End and Cayman Brac need to be discussed with the people

    In-addition to structured development being discussed, our banking laws also need to be discussed and a Home Owners Mortgage Protection Law need to be introduced by creating a division in the Monetary Authority Banking Division to create a Mortgage Registry that records all mortgages and loans with the ability that require all Mortgage Foreclosures Notices to be registered and monitored

    This would put a stop to all unfair mortgage foreclosures and ensure that the local foreclosure laws are being followed

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  9. Anonymous says:

    So let me get this straight. Cayman, a few decades ago was a sleepy place that “time forgot”.

    People came, fell in love with it…and decided to stay, adding to the local population.
    Repeat, repeat, repeat for the next few decades.

    NOW, these very same people, who did very well in Cayman financially I may add, now want to “stop the environmental destruction of Cayman”.

    It is somewhat hypocritical, in my view, as ALL who have moved here, and their offspring, have not only contributed to but ACCELERATED the consumption of Cayman’s natural resources.

    The local population still hold the majority of land holdings in the eastern part of Grand. That’s the real issue here.

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    • Anonymous says:

      2:23, you are spot on. For the past three decades all you could see is development on the WB peninsula. Magazine ads about “investment opportunity” , “walking distance to SMB” and so on and so on.

      Now, it looks as thought some people who have gotten fat off of the Cayman dream, and their privilege children, want to stop development. Yes, hypocrisy.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    The Go East Tourism and development will benefit greatly from this opening up of vast areas for housing and will ease traffic times to town.
    Kids and parents now still have to wake up 5am so not to get late for school or work.

    Extend Hutland Road already cuts way Inland into the new bypass, which will ease traffic to town as well as Open up needed housing lands.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Youre foolish if you think truly affordable housing will come of this.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yes but we don’t have to plough through the wetlands and encourage development. Been saying for yrs but it falls on deaf ears: a raised road on pylons would drastically reduce footprint and not enabling development

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      • Anonymous says:

        What about all the ploughing up of mangroves that were done in the WB peninsula??!! Or you believe that was always full of concrete?!!

    • Anonymous says:

      The big question is when Government will say it’s enough people, Hotels, and Condos here ??

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    • Anonymous says:

      All still have to go by Hurley’s.

  11. Anonymous says:

    There should be a thorough investigation into who makes significant financial gain from yet another NS road project. Representatives, (both past and present) of NS have considerable interests in the area and should have all interests recorded to avoid a conflict of interest.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    We residents control the need for roads. Reduce our driving by car pooling every day or using public transport. Reducing our traffic footprint means that the existing roads can still cope.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    What a one sided article! Why is someone not free to sell their land or put a road to it? Isn’t there a right to property under the constitution, CNS pls address that. Gov can start buying this land if they want to preserve it, which they should.

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  14. Crab Claw says:

    Isn’t farming a necessary pilar of sustainably?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Farming is great in the virgin north side area that will be opened up.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yes but this isn’t being done for farmland. Please read the article again and think about all the landlocked properties that would get a free road at the expense of tax payers, then sold to the developers who Will pour more concrete.

      We are such hypocrites. They made it law that Caymanians cannot keep a parrot for a pet or stew a bald pate but we jump to give the green light to tear their breeding ground and pour more concrete.

      The next elections can’t come fast enough.

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    • Anonymous says:

      It’s downright stupid to think we could hold back anything benefitting farmland when inflation caused by the bad Biden policies trickle down effect is so bad!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Are you asleep?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Did you read the article? It said NON farming land

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Premier Panton has a hard job to hold off other Ministers pushing the development, development without any development plan or controls. Some of these Ministers were planted on Cabinet by Sir Axyzn, other PPM leaders, developers, etc.

    Sir Axyzn is very clear that he and other PPM leaders, if given an opportunity, will repeal the Conservation Law, disolve the Conservation Council thereby extinguishing the possibility of any impact assessments – in future the only consideration will be how fast can he and the other PPM leaders get our population to 150,000 people to satisfy Dart’s and other developers’ wants to make their BILLION$ and BILLION$. Of course certain people will collect their “Facilitation Fees”, as we saw in earlier years in different cirmumstances by other politicians selling their services.

    The influence of PPM, developers, etc. is seen in the composition of various Boards with Members who are clearly seen to be under their control.

    Our only hope is the determination of the young people who are frighted into action because they clearly see the betrayal of some Ministers, senior civil servants and business leaders. They are fighting for their future and we should encourage them in that fight.

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    • Anonymous says:

      It’s a road for the benefit of thousands who have to get to work and drop kids off to school.
      It will improve the lives of the many who don’t share the privileges of the South Sound tree huggers.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    PACT was never serious about the environment and that has been confirmed time and time again by the decisions being made by the CPA and some of their other actions or inaction. The environment was always just a talking point for PACT.

    We can’t have our cake and eat it too. We simply have to look for a way to create a balance. At the end of the day I we want to continue to grow the population of the Cayman Islands these type of infrastructure works will be necessary. It’s about what vision we have for the Cayman Islands and Caymanians. It’s also about government revenue and how to sustain the government in the near future. We don’t have direct taxation (we do have indirect taxation) and property so the government remains heavily reliant for development to drive growth and to bring in revenue.

    We must decide as a country how we want to move forward and the price we are willing to pay for that decision.

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    • Young caymanian says:

      So you think PPM was any better. Ppm had plans approved that should even be approved due to regulations and code. PPM had their puppets within the CPA for example ALT. Another example is the secondary tunnel look how that got denied and then approved the go ahead. Another one is look how Alden and is party had waived $8million of duties for a hotel that made the oh so common always heard promise of “we’ll hire caymanians”. PPM has done far worse than what PACT has.

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    • Anonymous says:

      There is your first mistake. We DO NOT need to grow the population.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t want development driven growth. There, I decided, I said it.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Stop the madness with the over construction. No more concrete needed!

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Here come the comments about this road helping traffic…..

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  19. Anonymous says:

    How exactly did NRA come to the conclusion that this was a good place to push through their next road? Who gave them the idea? Who had input into the decision? Who had to sign off on it? What does Jay Ebanks say?

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  20. Beaumont Zodecloun says:

    Well, looking at the above proposed map and the already surveyed properties it would serve, it’s a no-brainer regarding the future of this area. We are told it’s a simple road extension. Yes. That’s phase one. Next multimillion riche residences built on some of the highest and most diverse natural woodlands on the island. PERfect.

    I know, I know. It’s not mine to say or sell. I am holding on to mine. I hope I’m not the only one. I CAN’T be the only one. That’s silly.

    I wish we could have collectively funded National Trust and purchased these properties. I bet there would be little interest in building the road then.

    There goes our kids and grandchildren’s future, and it will happen everywhere here eventually, until we look just like everywhere else. Hell, we do already, for the most part.

    This is what happens when governments have short-term views and few long-term development/conservation plans. Sad.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    We knew all along the #UN2030 was going to stop future land use on the island.

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    • Crab Claw says:

      So do I understand by the statement “told us that he wanted to see future development in Cayman confined to existing man-modified areas.” Does this translate that local landowners in the not existing man-modifed area’s land are now technically worthless because they will not be allowed to be developed?

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  22. Anonymous says:

    Surely Ezzard the environmentalist has already raised his objections? Or do some of his supports stand to benefit this time? Ed?

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  23. Anonymous says:

    Great plan! Extend Hutland Road into the new bypass, which will ease traffic to town as well as Open up needed housing lands.
    An area should also be reserved for farming. Even aqua farming in the swampy areas.
    Shrimp etc.

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    • Anonymous says:

      There are thousands of already existing subdivision lots available to build houses on. Another 441 going in at Lookout Gardens alone, even though hundreds fron the earlier phases are still raw and unbuilt.

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  24. Anonymous says:

    Why isn’t the Govt buying these lands?

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    • Anonymous says:

      1:08 pm because generational Caymanians don’t want to sell their land. They’ve been waiting for decades for the road to go through so they can develop it

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  25. Anonimous says:

    Isn’t most of North Side and East End slated as a Tourism Zone?

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  26. Anonimous says:

    What is an EIA Enviornment Impact Assessment?

    Environmental impact assessments for major tourism projects

    Some projects can have a major impact on the local environment.

    All major tourism projects should be subject to an impact assessment as part of the planning process to enable a more considered judgement on environmental and social impacts to be made.

    CIDOT should be formally involved in this process.

    Provision is made for EIAs in the
    draft Conservation Law and the draft Planning Statement.

    The impact assessment for any major tourism development should include the following questions:

    • Is the development in line with tourism policy and product development and
    market priorities?

    • What are the net economic benefits to the Cayman economy and exchequer and
    what are the costs?

    • What are the employment implications and how are these to be met?

    • How will it impact on existing tourism enterprises?

    • Is the scale and nature of development in line with the development plan for that
    area? Does it impact on the character of Cayman?

    • What are the impacts on the local environment in terms of visual amenity,
    disturbance, pollution, energy use, waste disposal, traffic generation etc?

    These government agencies and politicians need to stop playing games with the people and land owners about proposed developments and provide the people with proper information

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  27. Lawless Caymanus says:

    This is all about “wotes” and the PACT Govt is as bad as any other in this regard.

    If you want to see what happens with these roads, take a drive down the road to Wentas Land Cistern in East End. A beautiful area has been turned into a disgusting dumping ground.

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  28. Anonymous says:

    Why can’t NRA finish off the roads they have already started and stop these new projects that only the owners of landlocked parcels want to increase the value of their land for development? And will these landowners pay for this road out of the increase in their land value?

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  29. Anonymous says:

    So were the coasts and natural drainage areas, but that didnt and wont stop weatlthy developers.

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