Concerns unlawful land clearance may be quarry

| 19/06/2024 | 45 Comments

(CNS): The Department of the Environment and the Department of Planning have both raised concerns about an application for after-the-fact land clearing and the excavation of what was partially pristine shrubland and forest off the Queen’s Highway in East End that may actually be for quarrying and not just for farming purposes as claimed.

According to the agenda for Wednesday’s Central Planning Authority meeting, applicants Joanna West and Linett Smith were due to appear to explain the extent of the work, which appears to have continued at the site even after an enforcement notice was issued in June last year.

In yet another after-the-fact application in an area close to the Salina Reserve, the DoE pointed out that while some of the site was partially man-modified, the rest was environmentally sensitive primary dry shrubland and dry forest habitat, which, given the proximity to the Salina Reserve, was within the blue iguana geographic range.

DoE researchers visited the site in October last year, well after an enforcement notice was issued, and found that more land than the two-acre plan submitted to planning had already been cleared, and work was continuing.

“We are concerned about this application and that it does not reflect the extent of works that are occurring at this site,” the DoE scientists said in their submissions to the planning department. “DoE Conservation Officers visited the site in October 2023 and witnessed multiple trucks filled with top soil and rocks leaving the site.”

The DoE passed on a video of the work being done at the site to planning and pointed out that, despite the enforcement notice, “works have been ongoing at the site regardless” and that the “ongoing clearing and excavation represents an unauthorised quarry and not a simple land clearing exercise. Given the level of excavation and the amount of soil and rock which has left the site, we do not believe it is plausible that this is for farming.”

The DoE urged the CPA not to grant this after-the-fact application because the approach of clearing and commencing site works before planning permission is granted and before the consulting agencies had commented was “extremely worrying” since it removes any opportunity to provide constructive comments and feedback on best management practices, the retention of ecologically valuable flora or mitigation measures to protect the environment, including protected endemic species such as the blue iguana and minimise impacts to adjacent landowners and the wider area.

“After-the-fact applications are usually in response to enforcement action; the frequency of after-the-fact occurrences potentially indicates that there are inadequate deterrents from conducting work without the relevant permission in place,” the DoE stated, as it recommended the application be refused.

The application follows news of another after-the-fact land clearing application that was granted planning permission between the Salina and Colliers reserves and is likely to become the subject of another legal battle between the National Conservation Council and the CPA, as reported on CNS recently.

In that case, the after-the-fact application was made by local attorney James Bergstrom and his company, Bon Crepe. The CPA granted after-the-fact permission based on its own view that there were no adverse effects and had not referred it to the NCC, despite clear indications from the DoE that there were significant threats to the blue iguanas.

in this latest application, an adjacent landowner has also objected to the application and raised similar concerns, given that the parcel in question only benefits from an undefined 6-foot easement, and activity at the site appears to imply a more intensive operation than farming. The neighbouring landowner submitted images illustrating their concerns.

The planning department said in its analysis for the CPA that it also has concerns about the extent of the clearing.

“Due to the extent of works that have occurred on the site, with multiple trucks leaving the site with top soil and rocks, it is believed that this is more than just land clearing for farming purposes. If the use is deemed to be a quarrying, then the applicant would be required to undertake the required polling exercise per Regulation 9(4),” the planning department said.

See Wednesday’s planning agenda in the CNS Library.

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Category: development, Local News

Comments (45)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Here we go again, bit…g and raving in cyber space but call Caymanians to protest for two hours across the Govt building on their lunchtime and see wha’ you get. Tennis has more balls than we do when it comes to making a stand for anything (except when it comes to same-sex matters which are, really, people’s private lives).

  2. Anonymous says:

    Is it still the case that all heavy equipment brought into the islands has to be approved directly by Cabinet? What is the historic reasoning behind that?

    • Anonymous says:

      Every time these developers do such illegal acts their property should be taken away from! These people are too bloody disrespectful! Exactly who do they think they are?make it a law ASAP.

    • Anonymous says:

      To make sure only Caymanians are allowed to bring heavy equipment in. No foreigners allowed. Back in the day, that was one of the jobs/ businesses only allowed to Caymanians…like owning supermarkets. When a group of foreigners said they were going to re open and run Cayman Foods long long ago, Capt Charles, Fosters and Merren’s banded together and squashed it. A so it go.

  3. hog_sty says:

    Watch this be a slap on the wrist penalty, where the fine levelled, if any is so low compared to the profit from the illegal excavation. That’s right, I said illegal, because a permit is needed first, therefore it’s illegal to excavate regardless of ownership.

    We can’t have a lawless country nor laws Not applicable to certain persons or companies. Fair equity or it can’t work and we all lose, accept those crooked persons or companies who made off like a bandit, cheating the system & processes all the way.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The next thing on the agenda is to say they need a “lake” for a subdivision.

    • Anonymous says:

      And with the National Conservation Council out of the way, we’ll become the island of a thousand lakes. DoT will engage numberous Gen Z influencers to promote it and Kenny B will announce a direct flight to Minnesota so that the people in the land of 10,000 lakes can visit the island of 1,000 lakes. The inaugural flight will be filled with rich developers drinking Dom Perignon on the tax-payers expense and after visiting the Mall of America there, they’ll come back and announce that a new city-within-a-city with the largest mall in the Caribbean will be built on the land where the Ironwood Forest is in George Town. There will be high-five all around at the thought of how much money they’ll all make without the pesky Gina stopping them.

  5. Anonymous says:

    After the fact permission for land clearing needs to be tightened up. I don’t know the nuances of the regulations but this just all seems obscene

    1. Fine of 10x what would have been the normal fee straight off the bat which goes straight into Environmental Conservation Fund.
    2. No other reviews under that name or company bearing the name as a Director/Owner for 5 years.

    • Anonymous says:

      DCI should be required to pull the T&BL of all vendors working on land in this way without the requisite approvals they ALL know they need to have in hand. We need to send a message that bad actors get taken right out of the economy.

      • Anonymous says:

        The owners of the heavy equipment should have to see the planning permission before allowing its use by the landowner. If they proceed without it their equipment should be impounded. Simple and hopefully effective as no business owner wants their assets out of commission. The current fines to the landowners are simply the cost of doing business.

      • Anonymous says:

        Impound any equipment used to clear without planning permission. That simple act will stop a lot of this.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It might not be a permanent quarry, but the land has definitely been excavated. The main road out front this “clearing” was stained red from all the trucks hauling the excavated dirt and rocks. There is large pile of it deposited in full view on Old Robin Road.

    The kind of mentality that does this type of thing is the same kind who might, for example, ship hermit crabs out of Little Cayman just to use as bait.

    All part of the time honored cultural tradition of Caymanians destroying their own homeland for short term gain.

    • Anonymous says:

      It still stained, indicating activity has continued recently.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bring traditional angling in the same conversation as development, don’t you start.. don’t worry us fishermen are very very passionate about fishing, we actually lose money most of the time so just measure your reply and don’t forget how hard we will go.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Move along people, nothing to see here……….

  8. Anonymous says:

    Seize their land through forfeiture.

    We’re not talking about a storage shed.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like they need to be charged with criminal trespass as well, all the evidence is there DPP.

  10. Anonymous says:

    So basically nothing has changed and nothing will change in regard to the third world run department of planning and the third world residents of Grand Cayman. Better to just except it.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Nixon famously said ‘when the president does it that means it is not a crime’
    Our politicians, senior civil servants and anybody related to a politician or senior civil servant use the same reasoning every day it seems

    • Anonymous says:

      All you cry babies should just shut up. We need the fill for our developments so it is being put to good use. These are just weed bushes anyway so this company know what they are doing. How dare you challenge them. Praise the Lord the CPA and its chairman know how it is done.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I guess somebody did not pay off the right people is this has been permitted to become public. Still no doubt a proactive payment or 2 and retroactive permission will be granted. Either that or somebody’s nephew in Cabinet will make it all go away.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Where’s Wayne Panton now? Shouldn’t he be chained to the bulldozer?

  14. Anonymous says:

    This type of malarkey has been going on ever since residential development started ramping up in East End, approximately 20 years ago. There are heavy equipment/quarry operators that are typically involved in these so called “land levelling” & “land cleaning” activities one in particular operates out of High Rock, others others no doubt have since been capitalising on similar opportunities

    The Water Authority is responsible for permitting quarry operations however it seems the same operator referred to previously has been largely ignored in the past. There is also the potential for favourable treatment of some quarry operators and heavy equipment companies by the regulatory bodies due to close historical social ties. This is favouritism bordering on collision seems inescapable but needs to be highlighted for what it is and eradicated. Instead, impartiality needs to reign supreme and all involved including land owners, regulators and third party operators need to be subject to the same laws and level of oversight, scrutiny and penalties if laws are broken, bent, circumvented or ignored. Fines need to be prohibitive and retroactive and if land is damaged as is blatantly obvious in this case strict retroactive penalties need to be imposed including land reparations.

    Much needs to change in the current legislation as the system is to weak, and in the short term this caving in to retroactive permitting needs to cease immediately. This is an ideal case in which to make an example of how the whole process needs to change as the circumstances, scope of works and parties involved absolutely did warrant an EIA prior to any ounce of earth being disturbed.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Maybe it’s one of those Go East tourist attractions Kenny promised.

    • Anonymous says:

      For the record, Arden and Ezzard were lobbying the Go East initiative since before 2017 long before KB got to the LA.

  16. WBW Czar. says:

    Once again trampling on private landowners rights.

  17. Al Catraz says:

    I love the smell of diesel in the morning.

    Smells like progress.

  18. Anonymous says:

    May be?🤣🤣🤣

  19. Anonymous says:

    Who are Joanna West and Linett Smith..?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Close it off to prevent further access or destruction until this has been officially investigated. Not difficult…depending on whose pockets are involved!

  21. Anonymous says:

    According to the agenda for Wednesday’s Central Planning Authority meeting, applicants Joanna West and Linett Smith were due to appear to explain the extent of the work, which appears to have continued at the site even after an enforcement notice was issued in June last year.

    Once she explains that Kenneth Bryan is her nephew everything will be resolved.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Until all the parties involved in such clearances are heavily fined, nothing will change. This includes land owners and heavy equipment operators.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Brought to you by the very same person who vowed to eliminate our Cayman Parrots.

  24. Anonymous says:

    These are your former elected representatives folks.


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