Conservation still in question

| 24/05/2011

(CNS): Despite the pressing need for legislation to protect the country’s rapidly disappearing natural resources, the environment minister says that he is still reviewing the proposed National Conservation Law. He said that during the last year’s most recent public consultation exercise people were still referring to the law as “drastic and draconian”.  Mark Scotland said Monday that because he was not involved in the original drafting of the legislation he still needed time to consider the views of the public and the content of the law. The minster stated that he had to be comfortable with the new bill and ensure it struck the balance between allowing future development and protecting the environment.

Scotland spoke to CNS after delivering a short message at the DoE’s celebrations on Monday to mark twenty-five years of successful conservation in the marine environment. The director of the environment had noted, however, that her department would continue to push for that law in the same way they had fought for the marine conservation laws which had proved their worth.

Despite the opposition to the marine regulations and parks in the 1980s, the introduction had demonstrated how laws can protect and sustain natural resources. Gina Ebanks-Petrie said Cayman should be proud that “it took that bold step” as it still had a beautiful marine ecology in the face of even greater risks.

However, when it comes to the terrestrial environment the continued delay on the NCL leaves the country’s land based resources, from Cayman's beautiful, unique but endangered orchids to the islands indigenous lizards and bats, among many other flora and fauna, in serious jeopardy.

The minister said that meetings were continuing and he was examining elements that he felt needed to remain in the law but was still looking at parts that may need to be removed in order to strike a balance between development and conservation.

There was no mention of bringing the legislation to the parliament in the governor’s Throne Speech, delivered in the LA on Monday morning, which sets out the broad goals of the government over the next twelve months. The governor spoke about plans to “formalise and strengthen partnerships and processes between the public and private sectors, with regard to environmental considerations” but he did not mention the NCL. He said there would be an undertaking by the ministry to ensure that “development projects are planned and designed with a full understanding of environmental impacts,” and that it would “encourage mitigation” in the project design, but he did not speak of enforcing environmental considerations by bringing the long awaited law.

Scotland denied that the omission from the Throne Speech meant the law would not be brought sometime before the end of the 2011/12 fiscal year.

“We are still reviewing the information that came back to us during the public consultation because it was such a mixed bag of opinion,” he said, adding that people continued to describe the current law as “drastic and draconian.”

“I did not compose this bill and I am still trying to bring the necessary balance which will satisfy me that we can conserve our natural resources but continue to facilitate sustainable development projects,” the minster added.

He said he wanted to be completely comfortable with any legislation that goes to the House and was still meeting with small groups and the DoE to discuss the law.

The law has been changed considerably since the original draft and the DoE has worked hard to make compromises but still create legislation that can actually protect the land environment with the same rigour as it has been able to protect the marine environment. However, with no date and lingering concerns from the ministry, the reality is that all of Cayman’s species remain under threat. Even the limited protection offered to blue iguanas and birds is of little comfort if the increasingly scarce habitats in which they live are not protected, experts say.

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Comments (30)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I don't like nature!  I lub money! get?  now leave me alone, I have companies to run.

  2. Anonymous says:

    these are not great people we have elected.

  3. Anonymous says:

    How long has it really been?

    Friday, 2 October 2009 Official Hansard Report
    A healthy natural environment is a critical component of the nation’s overall wellbeing. Accordingly, in the area of Environment the Ministry will bring forward the proposed National Conservation Law for public review and consultation.

     

  4. mmcLaughlin says:

    Wow it took some time for the smallest frie from the UDP camp to say "because he was not involved in the original drafting of the legislation he still needed time to consider the views of the public and the content of the law".

    This is hogwash being fed to the public in the fullest sense, didn't Mr. Scotland not come to the public now on three seperate occasions in the last 18 months saying this law would be passed, the first time it would be passed in 6 months, thereafter 6 additional week would be required for more public consultation on some issues.

    I believe the message the minister has sent the public now on this issue indirectly is that it WONT be passed before the next election, this law coming into effect would surely put a damper on all of this government's plans for development.

    If such a law would be passed, Imagine the sway the law would have and all the power the DOE would gain, the DOE would become a  arbitrary body overnight with the passage of this law and not the out of place advisory body that it is today and this is what scares the heck out of politicians with development plans on their agendas that are controverisial in nature with our environment, I can think of a few of these projects, but I'll leave there……

     

  5. Anonymous says:

    What you need is good-sized two national parks/preserves, one being an expansion of the mastic trail site and another in east end. They need to be big enough to hold a sufficient number of the endemic species to forestall extinction. If people thought that the law would not end up requiring them to maintain their lands as wilderness based on the whim of some civil servant, then the law would get a lot more support from property owners.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This law is 100% driven by some bureaucratic civil servants trying to create more work and build power for themselves.

    Please note I said some!, not ranting about cs in general here, most of them are not like that.

    If you read the law and been in one of these meetings then you most likely would agree, if you don't then I would be interested in why. The clear consensus of those that were in the meeting that I was in and had read the law was what I expressed before.

    If you haven't been in these meetings and read the proposed law then please refrain from ranting as this blogs get boring.

    As to the tactics employed by the Minister, what would you expect, basic politics. Nobody is going to say that this law is nosense, would be assuming political cost for nothing, this will keep sleeping unless the same person that is trying to push it realises that it has no support and comes with a more reasonable proposal as her own initiative. If this does not happen and we keep loosing the environment is her fault.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Why do you use terms like "clear consensus" and "you most likely would agree" when numerous opinion polls have shown that it is your point of view is clearly the minority. Why not stop making up the facts to suit your point of view? 

  7. Anonymous says:

    Keep on fiddling, Nero

  8. Anonymous says:

    With the current projects on the table and being endorsed by the UK they must as well scrap this law, because there willbe nothing left to preserve here. NCL Not Considered law

  9. Anonymous says:

    Peter it is not a UDP thing or even a PPM thing as the previous government under Chuckie never pulled the trigger on the Conservation Law.

    Ezzard will not support the Conservation Law in its present form.

    Until Caymanians demand it of their elected politicians it will never happen so don't hold your breath.

    I totally support the DoE.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Desptite the pressing need for competent and skilled leadership Cayman still has to put up with the never ending excuses of why things are never done on time if ever.  But thats what you get  when you have voted for what you have.

  11. ah boiii says:

    I think Mr Mark is stalling this legislation until the East End Port is in the clear! These things are all connected my friends.

    If that is not his game then he is basically stalling the legislation so that the $$$land$$$ developers in the impacted areas can get their respective projects approved. I guess thats partly why planning now grants approval and gives you 3 years to start the project?!!!

    What was a preceived benefit for many now seems to be more of the usual politricks. I will bet that a slew of projects are on their way to planning now for approval as I write this!!!!

    I guess Mr Blue Iguanas goose is cooked for real now!

    Mr Scotland I will see you at the polls soon my friend and I think I will bring a few Blue Iguanas along with me to witness my vote as well!

    • Anonymous says:

      The new conservation law would make it illegal for you to bring the blue iguanas to vote! in fact, not even red shanks or soldier crabs you could bring.

  12. Anonymous says:

    never ending delays and incompetence from this shambles of a government…… any comment mr governor?

    btw have you noticed the governments new policy of not giving completion dates for projects or bringing in legislation?….pure politricks

     

  13. Anonymous says:

    What are you doing tonight Mark?  Why not review the damn draft?

  14. nauticalone says:

    I put much more faith in what the DoE says here than in a UDP Politician who is obviously stalling for obvious reasons.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Obviously the Conservation Bill can't be passed until the E.E.Quarry has been approved, as well as the Shetty Hospital, the much needed cruise ship finger piers in George Town and the various proposed rearrangements of the North Sound. It wouldn't make sense. Why would the Government shoot itself in the foot? Anyone who thinks otherwise probably believed the World really was coming to an end last week and gave away all their possessions as well.

     

     

  16. Anonymous says:

    Ryan said it was "drastic" and Imparato said it was "draconian". Good enough for the UDP.

  17. tim says:

    CNS:  "The governor spoke about plans to 'formalise and strengthen partnerships and processes between the public and private sectors, with regard to environmental considerations' but he did not mention the NCL."  Of course, because the Governor knows that the law would prohibit a local political party from developing the country. And he don't want to get in the way of a political party destroying the country and giving grounds for full British Rule. Comprehende!  You have to read between the lines you know  😉

  18. Anonymous says:

    Certainly his duty to search for legal and ethical clarity has not been pursued with the pace and effort that a servant in his position is obliged to discharge.  He is stalling like a schoolboy that neglects his homework.  

    • Just Commentin' says:

      Yeah. You are right. Scotland should quit stalling and have the balls to send this piece of trash legislation back to the drawing board – or better yet, the trash bin where it belongs.

      It might take a few years to write a good law, but hopefully in that time sane people will come up with a law that will balance the need to reasonably protect the natural environment with the need for promoting continued development. The current proposed law is a radical tree hugger's wet dream and a serious development investor's nightmare. The people of the Cayman Islands deserve better.

      While I am all for keeping things in these islands as pristine as possible, the proposed conservation law if enacted as-is and if aggressively enforced would be a very powerful deterrent to development, would increase the cost of doing business for investors, and would act as a negative incentive to development. Not a particularly good thing for a broke territory in desperate need of more money to fund its Premier's five-star trips abroad.

      Saving iguanas and pretty orchids is a fine and noble idea but we humans need jobs and places to live too. Sorry, but given the choice between offing a few species versus enhancing the well being of people, people will get my vote every time. If I never see another blue iguana again it will not bother me nearly as much as if I am unable to pay my bills or fed my family because the economy is tanking. Trust me, a lot of people feel the same way – hence the growing resistance to the proposed law. That's the reality of the situation. Some idiots – sorry, morons – living in La-La Land seem to place preservation of flora and fauna above the economic well being of humans.

      The radical rabid tree-huggers and their overly aggressive save-animals-and plants-at-any-cost-to-the-economy mindset creates conflict and gives sane believers in conservation a very bad name. The backlash is one reason the law is stalled. If the tree huggers had not been so aggressive relative to this law and had encouraged making reasonable allowances forthe promotion of physical development we would have had a good law passed by now.

      This is not an us-or-them thing. We all need to work together to see that a sane and balanced law is passed. Don't blame Scotland  for the delay, blame the tree huggers. Kudos to Scotland for at least having the intelligence to stall for a reasonable solution.

      • Anonymous says:

        Just Commentin', I've never met one of these,'radical, rabid tree-huggers,' nor the dreaded 'consermaniacs' they used to refer to in the old days, and I've been here for 28 years. I have met a lot of people who have taken the trouble to educate themselves about their environment, and are doing their best to look after it for their children. Surprisingly, these mad people also have families and jobs they want to keep, and think it quite reasonable to oppose, for example, the East End Quarry, when they perceive it to be in the interests of a very few, very rich individuals, and not in the long term interests of Cayman. In this particular case, what is particularly offensive to these crazy, frothing-at-the-mouth rabid tree-huggers, is that they perceive it to be just that, a quarry, while the port is a decoy, used ultimately for legal reasons.  

    • Anonymous says:

      a school boy who is being paid to not do his homework

  19. petermilburn says:

    Firstly I would like to say a big thank you to the DOE and its hard working staff for the celebration yesterday marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the marine parks which I might add have been a big success even though the few are still poaching the very things we are trying to protect.As for the Ministers speech re the new conservation law it seems like nothing has changed on that front Is he being guided by the Premier as to what he can say and should say?You be the judge on that one.Everyone knows that until the many hairbrained schemes that are being proposed are completed or at worst started then this law will never be passed by this present govt.Again I say that I am NOT against development but it must be done in a way that it goes hand in hand with our environment.Is this present Govt blind to this fact?It certainly appears that way.and maybe its time to take off those blinders and see the true picture.In the meantime the beat goes on and the piper stays the same.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      I think Peter is correct.  Until Mac gets all of his rich buddy's plans underway we will never see a conservtion law.  This is plain and simple.  They do not want to have a law interfereing with their plans.  We know Mac hates having to answer to anyone.

      • Just Commentin' says:

        You cannot be serious. Do you and other who hold this opinion really believe what you are saying?

        We had a perfectly good Health Practitioners Law that protected the high standards of the local medical profession. The law got in the way of Shetty's hospital, so Shetty requested Mac and his government amend the law to suit the needs of his project. And so it came to pass the law was changed to suit Shetty, in spite of the fact that the Cayman Islands Medical and Dental Society strongly protested the change as a retrograde step that would comprise the quality of medical care in these islands.

        We had perfectly good tort laws relative to claims for personal injury resulting from medical treatment. The law got in the way of Shetty's hospital, so Shetty requested Mac and his government reform the country’s tort laws to put a cap on personal injury awards and to limit the time period in which they can be made. Mac and his government did as Shetty requested in spite of the fact that the Law Reform Commission made recommendations strongly opposing changing the laws.

        So please do give answers here: What in the name of all that's good gives you the far-fetched fantasy that Mac is somehow afraid that the proposed Conservation Law will get in the way of his plans?  What give you the fantasy that he will treat the conservation law with any more respect than he did the other laws he had changed to suit his agenda? Please do tell me where this incredible fantasy is coming from because I do not see it.

        This is plain and simple: Recent history indisputably demonstrates to us that if a law comes between Mac and his or his investor's plans, the law will not stand in the way. How can you possibly ignore this? What give you the silly idea that the Conservation Law will be treated any differently? Rational minds want to know.

        If Mac freely compromised the laws protecting the lives and health of the islands humans how can you possibly be naive enough to believe he will somehow recoil from running roughshod over a few measly iguanas and orchids?

        If the new conservation law had been in place and gotten in Shetty's way, can you honestly tell me that you actually believe it would not have been amended to suit the good doctor?  If the law was in place now and gets in the way of the port project, can you honestly tell me that you actually believe it would not be amended to suit the port investor's plans? If you believe this I have some emeralds from Mars I can sell you real cheap. (They look a bit like pinto beans, but trust me, they are genuine Martian emeralds.)

        The easiest way to shut the tree-hugger's yaps would be to pass the bill immediately and simply tack on amendments giving a free pass to Shetty, the port project, and any other project Mac wants to exempt. Tell me, what could possibly stop Mac from doing that?

        By making the absolutely unsubstantiated claim that Mac and his minions are stalling the proposed law to because he is afraid it will get in his way is to fly in the face of the facts. It is deflection. In my opinion this is the only way you can avoid admitting to yourselves that the Conservation Bill has not become law because it is flawed.

    • Just Commentin' says:

      Hey Pete? Are you really under the delusion that any of Mac's hairbrained schemes would be the least bit impacted if the conservation law had been passed yesterday? Are you not aware of the laws that Mac's had revised and regulations bent for his investor buddies so they could move forward with their plans? Take the Shetty Hospital for one instance of free passes being given and a light bulb just might go off in your head. Ohhhh…now you see the light, eh?

      The prime reason that the new conservation law is meeting so much opposition and delay is that the law was, and still is, flawed – not because Mac is afraid of any law hindering his or his cronies plans. Ask yourself: is Mac afraid of anything except missing the flight for his next trip abroad?

      Here is a dose of reality: The Premiere is above the law. If the law gets in the way the law gets pushed aside, or revised, or new laws get written, or government gives concessions. If there is a solid political will for a plan to move forward, small stuff like existing laws and regulations will not stand in the way. This is de way tings bees round yah, Bobo.

      The conservation law is just another law regardless of its holy grail status among those tree-huggers who are silly enough to hope it will be a buffer between the environment and any of Mac's (or any well-connected developer's) schemes. A flawed law will negatively impact the smaller business people and the ethical investors who do not want to hop into bed with the powers that be, but a new conservation law will not hinder the plans of an influential politician or well-connected political cronies, regardless of the government in power: concessions will be given or legislation amended, and some more iguanas and orchids will bite the dust.