Gov’t failed on environment, says Panton

| 15/03/2021
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): The former environment minister took the government to task on Friday night at the Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forum for Newlands, where he said the administration had failed to show any commitment to the environment. Wayne Panton also pointed out that claims by the government that the marine parks expansion have been implemented were false because it is still not in place.

Panton said that even after making a promise in front of Prince Charles when he visited in 2018, the project, which he had worked to shape with broad support, was still not law, which was very disappointing. He warned that Cayman has already lost 80% of its marine species since 1979.

At the Chamber debate he said the terrestrial protections in place are being ignored, especially by the Central Planning Authority, which consistently rejects the advice it is given by the National Conservation Council. He also noted the recent situation where the NCC was not even in place when a major development came before the CPA.

“These things represent a failure of commitment to the environment for the future on behalf of the current government. It’s unfortunate but it is true,” he added.

By contrast, the incumbent, Alva Suckoo, who has since the debate announced his decision to join the PPM-led alliance, said the government had done quite a lot to address the environment. Suckoo gave credit to Panton for steering the National Conservation Law through but said that while there was a need to improve enforcement, he did not want to go any further with legislation to protect because that would tip the balance.

Roydell Carter, the former director of the Department of Environmental Health, focused on the dump, stating that Cabinet ministers had failed. He criticised a number of ministers that he had worked under over his long career managing the dump before he was mysteriously removed and given an undisclosed pay-off. He said he would resolve the dump problem if he was elected.

Raul Gonzales, the fourth challenger in the district, said it was the planning laws that needed to be reviewed because the “laws are extinct now”. He said people were poaching because they had no jobs. It wasn’t right, he said, but they were in need.

Asked about the traffic congestion and whether eliminating some roundabouts would form part of the solution, Panton spoke about the need to control the volume of traffic by reducing the number of cars on the road as he said we have “way too many”. He said that was not the way to solve the issue and the idea of building more roads was not the solution. In addition to improving the local transport system, he said it was time to limit the ability of people on work permits to import cars until they had been here for a period of time.

Carter, however, pointed to rearrangement of road construction as a solution and suggested moving the roundabout Red Bay and introducing a park and ride system. Gonzales said work and school hours should be staggered and there should be a proper transport system. He also supported the idea of reducing imports rather than moving roads and roundabouts. Suckoo said rearranging roundabouts might help, as they work if used properly, but he also supported improving the public transport system.

Asked to judge the performance of the current government, based on what they did best and what they handled poorly, all of the candidates pointed to the administration’s competent handling of the pandemic, though none of them would give a rating on a scale of one to ten. Suckoo was reluctant to offer any criticism at all, the reasons for which became clear on Saturday night when it was announced that he had joined the alliance. However, he did say the government had handled the cruise port project badly, though it had “all worked out in the end” as they are now not going ahead with it.

Carter criticised them for calling early elections but not for any other specific issues. Gonzales said they were spending money on the wrong things and not on dealing with education and local unemployment. “They were forgetting the people,” he said.

Panton said he, too, felt the port was a “major failing” but he was the only candidate who raised the issue of how the administration had handled the situation relating to the speaker. He said they had handled that very poorly and that was why he left the party.

Watch the forum on the Chamber YouTube channel:

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Comments (7)

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  1. Mangrove Blood on their hands says:

    You can only fail when you have tried ! This government doesn’t even try to save the environment because within in its bowls are some of the most prolific environmental destroyers and corrupt benefactors to set foot on this island The original mangrove pirates unfortunately are not foreigners but our own greedy Caymanians So call businessmen and politicians who siblings who now live the highlife of bank managers directors of environmental bodies of government and well to do no use elites of our society. Two prime examples of this the Saltcreek and Safehaven mangrove disaster areas now filled with opulent homes and towering security gates systems to keep the local Riff Raff out .Yes and they are still at it within this very corrupt government where their Greed still has no boundaries and now have turned to complaining about and using extortion tactics to get invited foreign developers to come here purchase and do developments and pay to play they little corruption scheme. Yes we know this a fact because the ex planning and development minister is now building consultant/political pay master to the party! Our environment and now coral and Cayman is unfortunately now paying the price for these pieces of $#!t who run around here in their gas guzzling Suv’s And high end BMW looking down their materialistic mugs..

  2. Anonymous says:

    A bit rich from a guy that lives on the edge of a canal in one of the first environmentally destructive developments in the North Sound.

    Live what you try to place on the shoulders of others, Wayne.

    • Wayne Panton says:

      I live nearly a mile from the sea in the heart of Newlands so you can update your facts with that. Get some sleep as well.

  3. Anonymous says:

    But, it hasn’t “all worked out in the end”, just differed to the next regime, a mere 30 days away…last month, Unity repealed 12 separate sections of Port (Amendment) Law and Regs 2021 (SL23 of 2021). Gazetted last week, it includes an expansion of the Port Anchorage Area into areas that were supposed to be protected zones (with a map on Page 8).

    CNS: See Port excluded from new marine protections

    • The exclusion of the Cali shipwreck from the marine park under the pretext that it falls within the traditional anchorage zone rather than the truth… that it has always been a major tourism attraction and fish nursery within short walking distance of the landing and ought to be protected as part of the park, forever available to visitors and Caymanians alike… looks just like a big red flag that indeed the current CIG hopes to reignite their environmental nightmare scheme of a CBF. Please don’t light my hair on fire again! I am NOT alone on this. Special permission to dive the Cali???!!! NO WAY!!! Re-allocate the Cali to the park ASAP if you’d like to avoid another fight.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Am I the only person wishing the Forum would ask questions like:

    Alva how many teams have you joined in your political career?

    Alva can you point to anything you have accomplished?

    Gonzales what are you bringing to the table?

    Alva is true you were reportedly paid $100k to join the Government ticket?

    Wayne why have you just seen the light on your previous colleagues?

    Carter how can you trusted given the cloud you left government under?

    • Wayne Panton says:

      Wayne why have you just seen the light on your previous colleagues?

      I guess I brought more positive influence to the party than I thought so in my absence perhaps you see their natural inclinations.