Cave plans long term

| 20/02/2012

caveScan 2 (219x300).jpg(CNS): The owner of the North Side caves, who says he plans to develop them into a tourist attraction, told CNS that there will be no bar, restaurant or nightclub inside the caves and that no development work is taking place there yet, merely tests in preparation for his re-zoning and planning applications. Christian Sorensen admitted however that he did have plans for a licensed bar and restaurant near to the caves.  He denied that he did not discuss his plans with the National Trust but said that it was several years since he had sat down in conservation with them and had not alerted them to the current work at the site of the proposed commercial “nature attraction”.

Sorensen told CNS that the circulation of the picture and comments by the National Trust had misrepresented what was happening and that both the NT and Department of Environment have known for many years that Crystal Caves wanted to create an attraction in the area. The need for access roads to his land, he said, had involved extensive discussions with the Trust, which holds land neighbouring the property.

Minutes of meetings back in 2009 show that the project was support by the then leader of government business, now premier, McKeeva Bush, who told the developers that he would support a planning waiver for the access roads.

Sorensen confirmed that government has granted a retail licence and a tourist attraction licence for the attractions as well as a liquor licence. However, he stated that he did not have a music and dancing licence. He said that with the proposed developments, such as the Shetty hospital and Cayman Enterprise City, the time was right to return to the proposal and begin the necessary process to get planning permission.

The plans go back to the 1990s, Sorensen said in response to the criticisms that have emerged since the excavator was photographed in the cave last week. He said that when he bought the land it was always with the intention of creating a guided tour of some kind and it was through talks with the National Trust that just five of a very extensive network of caves and a nature walk in the surrounding area emerged as the basis of the planned attraction. He said a small wooden structure would be erected some distance from the caves where visitors could buy a drink and some food after their tour, as well as souvenirs

The developer insisted that he had official “permission to carry out the tests” at the cave and to clear a pathway for the excavator as he needed to measure the areas to ensure that the five caves could be accessed safely by visitors.

Sorensen claimed that the project was “an eco-friendly one that would protect not damage the caves”. He said that at present people are camping there, burning fires, stealing stalagmites and vandalising the sensitive cave system. Sorensen said as an official attraction the caves would be managed properly and have round the clock security as well as qualified guides taking people round. He said that some people had been guiding tourists and charging money for the tours on his land, without regard to the safety of the visitor or the integrity of the caves.

The goal to have an organised attraction there is not new, Sorensen insisted, but it would still be some time before he actually started to develop the caves as a tourist attraction and, as a result of the previous discussions with the National Trust and the DoE, he had modified the original proposals and would now not have the road going so close to the caves. He said there would be lighting but experts have advised that this does not cause any damage to the sensitive eco systems.

Sorenson was concerned that the comments by the Trust were not reflective of the reality of the situation because they were aware of the long term plan and he said this had caused the distress. However, he conceded that he had not called attention to his ‘testing’ at the site as he did not want to attract further unwanted attention to the area from the visitors he says are causing the damage.

Asked about his plans for an environmental impact assessment, Sorensen said he would have to consider the situation and the costs involved as well as who would undertake the assessment, noting that his family had developed caves in Barbados so they already had considerable experience.

With no national conservation law, Sorensen and his partners at Crystal Caves are under no obligation to carry out an environmental impact assessment.

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Comments (39)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Hopefully it will be more successful than the bar at stingray city.

  2. Anonymous says:

    oooof course, it all makes sense now…
    "Minutes of meetings back in 2009 show that the project was support by the then leader of government business, now premier, McKeeva Bush, who told the developers that he would support a planning waiver for the access roads."

    anything this man involved with, is just… well let's put it this way, needs be under the magnifying glass… i mean gaw-lee!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      JEEEZUUUMMM!  I never knew these caves existed and I'm 49  years old!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I love this guy.  While I agree with CS that security of the caves from the public was always an issue….how does he now propose to protect them with a jumbo size road leading you into to them and no 24 hr guards on duty….??


  4. Anonymous says:

    The land is privately owned and no-one else was intrested in the property. At least now a responsible developer will provide a sustainable natural environment for all to enjoy because I do not see many older Caymanians and tourists alike hiking through virgin bush to visit our caves. This way young and old alike will enjoy this natural wonder of the island.

    Congratulations to the developer.

  5. Anonymous1 says:

    Mr. Sorensen, please don't take it personal, it is not an attack on you. The only thing that I can tell you or any one who have some dream of doing any development in the Cayman Islands at this time is to put it on the back burner and wait until if/or when Ezzard ever become Premier. Only then will any development make sense to the people who oppose to your proposal or anyone else.

    • Anonymous says:

      This idea could be put on the back burner, it could have as many slants and pro postings by spin doctors and friends, but I am at a loss even to imagine, what occasion that this development would make sense to anyone.

      It remains a shining pinnacle of money over the environment.


    • Anonymous says:

      ezzard….the man who opposes everything?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Destruction of Cayman – so easy a caveman could do it…..

  7. Anonymous says:

    Especially if all the night club staff wore pirate outfits and all the drinks were in tankards.

    That would be so cool.

  8. Earth Angel says:

    Land owner conveniently omitted the fact that he didn't have permission to excavate the cave floor by mechanical means (ask Planning Dept and they will confirm).  He also didn't have initial permission to clear a road by mechanical means and only obtained this after being shut down by Planning (again can be verified by Planning). One would think after all of thishe would stop 'digging himself into a deeper hole' (pun intended).

  9. Anonymous says:

    No throwing bottles into the cave or using it as a rest room.

    • Stale News says:

      National conservation Law  in conjunction with the National Trust , sinks its teeth into who it decides upon, not being fair across the board.  If they had any interst in preserving Caves in Cayman, thye would first try and identify all caves on the Island, and even doing a Cave map.  How interesting that would be to tourist, to buy a copy of a map of the Caves in Cayman.     They should first apeal to persons who know where caves are and to persons who have caves in their back yards and on their property.  I am sure many persons would be very happy to have the Caves cleaned out,  listed and recognized as part of the Cayman Heritage.

      Lets hear from the Department of National Trust what they think about this observation.   Sometimes I really wonder what some of these departments are used by government for.    They are getting big salaries, but what are they doing except protecting bats, as much as they are such an nusiance, and shit****ing up peoples homes.

      There are so many interesting Caves all over Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac which are not identified, and is never being asked by the Trust to identify.

      If a cave is big enough to have tours, I do not see anything wrong with it.  However I would not like to see Bars and clubs set up inside the caves.  There is enough space outside for that.  Because if you get the out of ordinary people in there without guide and supervision, I belive they would pick the walls to pieces.   Identify them and ask for assistance to clean them out.

      • Anonymous says:

        "Stale News", there is no conservation law in Cayman, and there is no 'Department of National Trust'. The National Trust is just that, an independent  Trust organization, and the staffare certainly not  getting "big salaries." Many work voluntarily. Funding from the Government is received annually, but these funds have been reduced by about one third over the past two years, along with other budget cuts, so the organization is really struggling to discharge its obligations.

        To put things in perspective, every year the Turtle Farm loses over thirty times the Government's entire annual budget for the National Trust. Furthermore, the Trust can only protect ecologically important areas by outright purchase. The fact that is has managed to buy close to 1,000 acres of ancient forest in the Mastic Trail is a truly incredible achievement.

        The Trust has no power except that of purchase, just like you or me, and if you think it does, you don't understand how Governments work!

        There is an environmental fund that has been accumulating for over a decade, and it stands at nearly 40 million dollars. It was supposed to have been used for land acquisition, but is instead being held as collateral, I believe, and so cannot be touched. Imagine what the Trust could have achieved with that!



        • my my says:

          "every year the Turtle Farm loses over thirty times the Government's entire annual budget for the National Trust." That bears repeating! 

      • Anonymous says:

        National Trust is not a Department of Government. It is a statutory body. There is a difference in many ways.

        Now, since the NT does nothing according to you, when last have to donated a $1 to assist in purchase or maintenance of properties owned by the NT?  When last have to volunteered a minute of your time to assist with any of their project?

        If you wish the righ to complain, then do something to assist the situation.  I can assure you the National Trust has never had a shortage of good ideas, just money and staff.


        • Fig tree says:

          Fig tree to you 20:36  The person you are refering to is wore out not with volunteeeering work for the National trust,.   So you really dont know they are inside and know what is happening.

      • teacher says:

        Why do people write without making even the smallest effort to learn something about the subject they are addressing? Just because this person hasn't heard of any cave studies or efforts by the National Trust to buy and protect them, doesn't mean it wasn't done. Scientists have been coming here since the 1980s (and earlier) to study and chart the geology, flora and fauna. There are maps, but they are not for tourists. These caves are on private land and it wouldn't be the Dept of Environment's job to send tourists to them!  Bat biologists have come here repeatedly to work with the National Trust and the Dept. of Environment. Where do you think all the information on their websites about the different species of bats here came from? From scientists studying them, that's where!  And as for the bats in the roof – it's the National Trust who helps people get them OUT of the roofs – and they've put up bat houses so the bats have other places to live. Their website says that every bat eats up to 2,000 insects every night – That's billions of bugs and it's called a balanced ecosystem. Take away the bats, have more bugs, spray the bugs, have more poison around us and more cancer. 

        Of course the Trust can't save everything. They don't have unlimited money, but they do their best and there are those who work very hard to raise funds to buy land to protect it. In this country, purchase by the National Trust is the ONLY way for land to be legally protected forever so future generations will know what a forest looks like. They can't save it all – but the balance is tipping farther and farther towards losing most of it. It's time for government to step in with some real money to buy national treasures for this country to keep for our grandchildren. It's called Planning Ahead – aka Vision. 

        • A real Cayman Teacher says:

          Teacher 21:31  I am an old Caymanian who has been around here much longer before you were born, and WE, lived with bugs, we grew the best produce, we had bats that did not have a home, and we never had cancer.  The saving the bats has been introduced by a foreigner,  I remember quite well.  But we did ot want them around, because beside them being a big nusiance to crops and messing up buildings, they are fierce ugly little vampires.  The National trust is always complaining about not having enough money, but Hello, they are always bein given fat sums by the private sectors, which thenin turned are matched by the Cayman Islands Government.  

          There are many neglected projects on the Island which  the National Trust Claims, but do they spend any money on them.  NO.  They pay out a good salary every month to their top bosses.  So no money is there to up-keep the projects.   Please stop hiding behind the name and do something about unsightly projects that is owned by National Trust.

          Government does not need to step in and buy any more national treasures for this country, simply because the ones they have pumped money into is not taken care of by  National Truyst.  Unsightly places for Tourist to visit.   Tell the public what are you doing to deserve such a pay.?  I could name a few but it would be an embarassment to NT.  when the public hear of them.  So I would suggest make an effort to spend some of the dollars received on keeping these projects in stead of inching out every penny every month on a paid salary.

          • Anonymous says:

            Dear "A real Cayman Teacher",

            Since you are such an authority on everything, you should add your name, add the names of all these people who are paid money that they do not work for and the we could all get to the bottom of this ASAP.

            The National Trust board members are not paid, only the overworked staff.  They survive on donations, grants and yes some Government funding.  They have some very good programs like the Blue Iguanas, the Mastic Trail and the Mission House.  All these projects are visited by school children, residents and visitors to the islands.  The Trust does its best to preserve our environment and historic places. Of course there is always room for improvement, but Rome was not built in a day.  Instead of insulting the organization that was created to protect your island, you should become involved and help make it better and not be so negative.  Not true???

            As a "teacher" you should be looking for the positive and encourage inprovement not discourage. Perhaps its time you take a refresher lesson in teaching.



          • Anonymous says:

            I am quite surprised at this comment.  where exactly do you get your information from? 

            how can you expect those at the national trust to work as hard as they do all the while being insulted by people like you for probably much longer than the regular 9-5 and NOT get a paid salary?  they are people that have lives, families and responsibilities at home that need to be attended to?  so i would ask that you consider things like that before you run your mouth.

            National trust has limited funds and limited help from the government, so i'm not sure where your information comes from.

          • Bush Duppy says:

            If only the National Trust could get half the money you believe they get from Government they may be able to hire Caymanians to do important jobs like run their historic properties and help educate our children about their natural and built histroy.


            Unfortunately, you do NOT know how little the Governement gives the National Trust. In fact if you took the time to get the facts, a quick glance at the 2011/2012 CI Governement Budget shows the following government grants:

            National Trust – CI$237,877

            National Gallery – CI$422,190

            National Cultural Foundation – CI$579,655


            If you are aware of properties that need maintaining why don't you offer some assistance. Perhaps if you got involved with the National Trust you would understand how much they really do with so little.  


      • my my says:

        Sorry, What? There is NO Conservation Law in the Cayman Islands.There is no "Department of National Trust" – there is just the Department of Environment – a government department with many duties to protect the marine and terrestrial environment and to monitor changes. And there is the National Trust FOR the Cayman Islands – a non-profit, non governmental organization with very little funding from anyone, who try to fulfill the role of finding ways to record and preserve our history and our areas of natural beauty or importance. None of this is any threat to anyone and it wastes everyone's time when people complain without even a basic understanding of how their own country works. 

      • Anonymous says:

        wow…putting your ignorance out there aren't ya?

        as someone else has said there is no conservation law and there is no department of national trust!

        the national trust has prepared documents and historic/environmentally sites that they believed should be protected.  government merely looked at the list and said thanks.  government has done nothing about this.

        i feel incredibly sorry for those that work for DOE and national trust.  it's a hard job trying to protect the environment and then being met with insults and ignorance.  government needs to be held accountable for the environment and stop putting it on the back burner, until they can sort out the dump, west bay road and new port.  government knows how many more hurdles they will have with a conservation law.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Sorenson…you just ran into some real CAVE people. No matter what you say it will be misrepresented. 

  11. Anonymous says:

    Good luck Mr Sorensen.
    Hopefully the one man one vote, no dump relocation, no road relocation, no canals in south sound, etc, folks will leave you alone now. It sounds like you are trying to balance eco-responsibility with financial viability, which is all that we should ask. How many jobs will you be creating at the attraction? Are they jobs Caymanians will want?

    • Anonymous says:

      'Are they jobs Caymanians will want?'  What does that mean? 

      • Anonymous says:

        It means the Cave will be air-conditioned.


        • Anonymous says:

          With guides on Two hour lunch breaks.


          • Anonymous says:

            You people are a sad bunch.

            Might I remind you that you chose to live here with us Caymanians.  So if all you think Caymanians want is A/C and two hr lunch breaks, I would encourage you to do the following:

            1) stop setting the office a/c to 50F to minic the temperature of your natural habitat in the northern regions of the world.  When you behave like this we have no option but to adapt to our new environment.

            2) stop going to those 1/2 day "professional lunches" that cause you all to return to work at 4:45pm, loaded and with alcohol on your breath, farting as you walk to your assistants desk, whom you then make a pathetic attempt to flirt with….

            3) stop insulting and "cussing out" your staff and ASSuming they are useless.

            When you behave like point 2 and 3 it takes us two hours to drive to our appointment with our shrink, discuss sexual abuse or verbal abuse in the work place, convince our husbands / boyfriends not to cowitch you and then return to work.

            Tell me that does not describe more than a few of our highly educated, professional bosses in island.

          • Anonymous says:

            If you can find them at all (the guides).

  12. Anonymous says:

     i for one think a bar/nightclub in a natural cave setting is ingenious!

    of course everything should be done to respect the environment at the same time…. and be done in accordance with all local laws

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, me too – and as a North Sider I'd be a frequent patron too!

      • Anonymous says:

        cuz northsiders like to drink?

        • Anonymous says:


          But actually no I am no drunk.  I work in professional services and probably have a drink 4-5 times a year – so my patronage certainly wouldn't be enough to keep their bar open.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like back peddling to me.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds like you are clueless to me.

      • Anonymous says:

        That person isn't clueless.  The man is back peddling.  The difference between our cave and Crystal Caves is that our caves have bats or did till he showed up and excavated it.  

      • Anonymous says:

        If a clueless person can see through this to reveal the back peddling, then it is a sad reflection on all the authorities that have been 'hoodwinked' since the inception of this money spinner.