DoE warns CIG and developers to stop building on beach

| 16/01/2024 | 49 Comments
Application site parcels are highlighted in light blue. Shown in the image is the car park in grey, the restrooms in yellow, the septic in black/dark grey, the cabanas in red and the 75ft coastal setback provided by the applicant as the red line (Source: DoE submissions in CPA meeting agenda)

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government wants to spend CI$250,000 installing parking and toilet facilities as well as cabanas and a concrete wall on a turtle nesting beach in East End that it acquired for public use. But the Department of Environment is warning all developers, especially the CIG, what will happen if they alter the natural environment and urging them to take valuable lessons from Seven Mile Beach. In this case, the application by the lands ministry doesn’t meet even the minimum 75ft regulatory coastal setback and will, if it goes ahead, lead to increased erosion.

Despite claims by the UPM, which formed after PACT ousted former premier Wayne Panton from office, that the new government still cares about the environment, this latest public sector planning application suggests that government members are saying one thing in public and doing another when it comes to its goal to create more public beaches, as access to Seven Mile Beach is lost to the luxury property sector.

Rather than just purchasing beachfront property and allowing it to remain in, or return to, its natural state, the government want to place hard structures on dynamic beaches, putting them at very high risk of erosion.

In this instance, the beachfront property is in the heart of the residential areas of East End, close to the district health clinic and east of the primary school. The proposed car park would encroach well into the active beach ridge and foreshore, at only 30 feet from the mean high water mark. The DoE also said the parking area is “extensive given the size” of the beachfront that the government has acquired, and there is already paved public parking along the roadside to the west that could be used by visitors to the beach.

“The large non-porous parking area proposed will not only remove the area available for the beach but will likely result in runoff which will further erode the beach. We recommend that the size of the parking area is reduced and that the surfaces be kept permeable to reduce run-off impacts and provide for a more natural beach experience,” the DoE said in its submissions to the planning department.

The application for these beach amenities is due to be heard on Wednesday by the Central Planning Authority, which continues to criticise the National Conservation Council and the DoE, claiming they are delaying the planning process. But the DoE has only very limited powers to direct the CPA’s decisions, and as this particular beach is not protected in any way under the law, even though it is a turtle nesting beach. Therefore, the department can only try to persuade the CPA members that the proposal is a bad idea.

“It is crucial for all developers, especially the Government, to understand the potential consequences of altering the natural environment and to take valuable lessons from the southern end of Seven Mile Beach,” the DoE said in its recommendations. “Given the climate change predictions for the region, including sea level rise and increased intensity of storm events, including storm surge, coastal setbacks should not be reduced but instead should be treated as a minimum.”

In other words, not only should the CPA not be granting such waivers that are slicing setbacks by half but they should be encouraging applicants to adopt plans that are even further back from the beach than the current 75ft, which is increasingly inadequate to protect our shoreline from rising sea levels.

“It is important to highlight that setbacks seek to protect properties against these inevitable effects of climate change, such as coastal flooding and erosion, by ensuring that hard structures are not located in an area susceptible to these hazards,” the DoE pointed out. “Many of the current public beaches, such as Kaibo Public Beach, Spotts Beach and Governor Russell’s Public Beach, already suffer from erosion near the cabanas, leading to amenity issues. We recommend that all hard structures which form a part of this proposal meet the minimum coastal setback requirements.”

The DoE also said that on this occasion, there is sufficient room to reposition or reorient the parking, restrooms and the septic tank to meet the minimum setbacks. It also said the septic tank should be located on the roadside or as far away from the sea as possible for obvious reasons.

The DoE is not the only entity raising concerns about allowing any more hard structures anywhere near the beaches, including where land is acquired by government for public use. Many local environmental organisations want the CIG to leave the beaches as they are and resist installing too much parking or excessive facilities so that people can enjoy the beaches in their natural state.

Not only are local activists concerned about the negative environmental impact of too much parking or too many facilities but also the danger of commercialisation of the public beaches, which is what has happened at the Seen Mile public beach and is likely to happen at Governor’s Beach as well. There was a concerted effort by residents in South Sound just a few years ago to resist grandiose plans for Smith Barcadere (aka Cove) and to limit the facilities the then PPM government erected there to retain the natural beauty of that much-loved local spot.

See the application on the CPA meeting agenda in the CNS Library.


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Category: development, Local News

Comments (49)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Tell me who objected to building the toilets and showers at Governor’s Beach?
    Minister Sabrina was on Radio with her staff last week saying that trees and brushs will be left undeveloped on such beaches.
    The restrooms ar Smith Cove were mentioned..that’s a far walk to do your business though.
    So much for World Class facilities on SMB.
    I guess we can pop into Westin if needs must.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    ‘as access to Seven Mile Beach is lost to the luxury property sector’. How do we lose access to the beach? Genuine question. Hotels don’t own the beach, only the land the hotel sits on surely?

    • Anonymous says:

      This is a sad indictment on our Government. Do we have a government that doesn’t believe in the rule of law? As far as common sense goes, we know that doesn’t apply.

    • Anonymous says:

      Nobody or no agency will stop the resorts from claiming it as their property.

      Pass the rum.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Replying to 7.am post
      Numerous rights of way to the beach were lost over the years when the CPA gave permission for them to be built upon or otherwise failed to protect them when they were blocked. We lost more to the give away of the WB road and Dart’s wall along the tunnel. It’s a long time sine we had a government that cared for the rights of its people.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    government department tells goverment to stop doing the wrong thing??????
    welcome to wonderland.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    The governor cannot be moved. The house is needed for the president when we become a republic.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    A government in the 70’5 moved the high mater mark designation on SMB to facilitate developers and real estate agents. Now look where that has us.
    Is government so dumb that they cannot see how stupid decisions effect the country in the long run?
    50 years later we are now considering spending millions (on a regular basis) to replace sand that would still be there if not for that dumb decision.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Anyone else noticed that Panton has gone silent since he lost his Premiership? Not a peep out of him on any issue. He hasnt even bothered to show up to Parliament, yet he continues to get paid and people continue to make excuses for him.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I hope you were also this “vocal” when literally the entire PPM didnt show up to multiple sessions of parliament, for months on end.

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  7. Elvis says:

    Anyone building on beach front needs their head looking at anyway. That land is being eaten away as you look on.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Deaf Ears can’t hear DOE

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  9. Anonymous says:

    The UPMs idea of saving Cayman for Caymanians is buying up property so that future generations will have something. But as always they are putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound.

    In addition to being an extremely costly plan. The amount of land they can acquire will not be enough then they will just use it to build government homes which many do respect or care for.

    They should always have protected us by limiting land ownership to citizens and residents like many other countries do in various ways. Instead they allow people who have never even set foot in Cayman to own property because it is a great investment especially from a tax perspective.

    The real estate market is a dog eat dog world and the numbers of agents are staggering and they let anyone regardless of moral compass be allowed to sell land here. Many properties are listed on international sites so it’s evident who their target audience is.

    The average Caymanians trying to compete with billionaires to try to own a slice of their country is tandem to fighting out of their weight class. Government needs to change the laws if they truly care about preserving land for Caymanians, not try to buy up a bunch of land for them.

    The sad part is that when we price ourselves out of interest for those who come to our shores – they can pack up and go home, and we are left here to endure the downfall of the issues that the politicians helped cause or did nothing to prevent.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Blackrocked out of ownership

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    • Truth says:

      The average Caymanian is competing with average people from all over the world and some are winning and some ae losing. Just like in the rest of the world. You can’t change losers into winners by getting rid of the winners and if that’s the only thing possible to do than you have already lost…… That means your always gonna be a loser. Sorry for the bad news. P.S. trusting in government to save you instead of yourself is self defeating.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    So sick of hearing about damn turtles. Who really cares. A sea turtle hatchlings chances in any event of making it adulthood is 1 in 1,000. And if they make it to adulthood they are swimming far out in the ocean never to be seen again.

    Again, sick of hearing about turtle nesting. WGAF….

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    • Anonymous says:

      Obviously, you don’t GAF. Indigenous turtle populations have been here much longer than you. They have more right to be here than you.

      You think might equals right, and anything you have the power to subjugate deserves to fall under your whims. I am sick of people like you that don’t GAF about the wildlife and sea and land and shores that once lost can never EVER be recovered.

      Why don’t you just go live in Miami if you like concrete so much? Start a gofundme. I will contribute to your relocation.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Ignorance is bliss

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    • Anonymous says:

      🧌 Troll

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    • Anonymous says:

      Same can be said about you.

    • SKEPTICAL says:

      Another ignorant arrogant moron – hopefully not looking to stay on the island.

    • Anonymous says:

      Even if you don’t care about turtles they bring value to the islands, tourists love them, they come to swim with them and for the possibility of seeing one nesting. So even if you don’t care I’m sure you care about the turtles economic value to the tourism industry. Not to mention turtles are part of Caymanian culture.

  11. Anonymous says:

    We don’t want this nor all the other hair brain, expensive projects currently proposed at our expense.

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  12. Caymanians don’t be a Fool says:

    Move the Governor I agree with you 100% cause she has come here to do absolutely nothing for Cayman or Caymanians but the residence needs to stay absolutely where it is and not handed over to some corrupt political sponsor so he can develop this property which our current no use politicians will Sell it if they get control of this last piece of pristine beach along 3 mile beach no longer 7 mile beach is now a myth. Caymanians be careful with political promises how many times do you need to be lied to to understand a promise is a comfort to a fool.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Referendum on the Governor’s house. Keep it as is or make it a local venue with the condition in the referendum that it remains a local venue and can’t be sold.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Can always tell when election season starts. Can the MP for East End Isaac Rankine get his balls out of the Premier’s pocket and say no to this???
    Can the auditor general look into the asphalt being laid in North Side to private residences and developments?
    Does paving roads and destroying beaches equal a better life for Caymanians? Are these decisions by your MPs putting
    food on your table or just the select few?
    Our debt is over half billion and when the thousands that are waiting on PR and status get through, Needs Assessment payouts will be unmanageable.
    Stop voting for turkeys!!
    Where are the Opposition voices on all of this going on??
    Why aren’t the so called ousted politicians that said they stand for integrity blah blah not saying anything either?
    Can we please change the law that enables civil/public servants to have an open opinion and let the chips fall where there may?

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    • Mumbichi says:

      Give us angels or eagles and we will “flock” to not vote for the turkeys. If only given a choice of turkeys, we choose those who appear to gobble the least.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Move the governor. The governor doesn’t need a 50 million dollar beach estate. Make it a local venue owned by the people. A new suitable Governor’s residence will be paid for in a year. It’s a no brainer.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Move the governor and these clowns will sell the land to Dart. There will never be any public beach as the rich do not want the riff-raff anywhere near to them.

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      • Anonymous says:

        “…”the rich do not want the riff-raff anywhere near them”. And what is wrong with that sentiment? This country is now jammed up with riff raff and they are ruining it. I am not rich and live far away from the rich parts of the island but around me it is terrible. derelict cars, loud ghetto music, cans, beer bottles and KFC and other fast food containers thrown out of car windows on my land or at the roadside.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Might as well belong to Dart now, only one person gets to enjoy it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      No. We have zero respect for our heritage and the house itself and its purpose is heritage. We have zero history of ‘local venues’ being good. Look at the disgusting mess that Public Beach has become by allowing beach vending. Keeping the governor there is the best way of preserve Governor’s Beach for the people because she doesn’t kick off locals from using it and she doesn’t harass people to buy warm beer and beach chairs.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Heritage smeritage. It’s a luxury property better used to serve the people of Cayman and not a single political appointee.

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        • Anonymous says:

          it wont be used to serve the people you dullard. It will be sold to private developers and become another hotel.

          Have you been asleep the last decade? its what always happens.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Heritage? You can’t just say “Heritage” and automatically imply some mystical value. What value is this luxurious beach estate dedicated to a local minder providing to anyone other than the governor? A real heritage value would include a nice place for Caymanian families to go that had bathrooms, local food, Caribbean music and a nice rum punch. And could never be sold or made off limits. Maybe a pool for the kids and no threat of being thrown out because you aren’t a paying hotel guest. How about expecting more and actually demanding more including improvements at the current public beach and it’s management. And I’ve used public beach many times and and it’s not as horrific as you describe. It’s actually very nice most of the time. So negative.

    • Anonymous says:

      Move the Governor to a turtle breeding beach that no building should take place on? Have someone take your keyboard away.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Rubbish. The governor’s house is well set back and the least of our worries. It’s traditional for the governor to live there. Why change it?

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    • Anonymous says:

      yah accept here is what will actually happen: GIG moves the governor promises to make the property part of governors beach…. governor gets moved and CIG stalls the project long enough for the building and property to deteriorate, says its no longer viable, sells it all to dart, New hotel.

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    • Anonymous says:

      How does moving the governor solve the problem of criminal politicians destroying the environment?

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      • Anonymous says:

        Well, Guess the politicians want the White House on the Beach! Trying to stir the pot before they make their move?

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      • Hubert says:

        10:53, The Governor needs to call for direct rule to clean up the corrupt Caymanian politicians.

        Just looking at Public Beach one can see how rapidly this place is going downhill.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, yes, yes! We need more space for the sales of trinkets to high spending cruise tourists. Turn the house in to a beach bar and craft market with some vendor huts and let’s go!

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    • Anonymous says:

      No brainer if you are a corrupt politician with a corrupt set of developers behind them! The people say NO to both of them!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Of all the problems and this is your gripe and solution. Go back to sleep bobo.

    • Anonymous says:

      73 rich SMB condo owners thumbs down moving the Governor.

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