NRA admits using illegal fill

| 22/08/2008

(CNS): As the Mahogany Estates residents continue their campaign to stop Whiterock Investments from turning their backyard from an unofficial quarry into an official one, the National Roads Authority (NRA) has admitted that it did inadvertently use fill excavated from the quarry in question, but has since ceased to do business with the company.

In a response to enquiries made by CNS, Brian Tomlinson, Director of the NRA, explained that the Authority purchased 814.30 cubic yards of shot rock from Whiterock Investment Ltd in July of 2007 under one order. “When the dubious disposition of the business came to light, all business transactions with that company were stopped and we have not done any business with them since nor do we intend to do anymore business with them,” he said.

The issue of the NRS’s use of the fill had come to public attention earlier this week when the residents of Mahogany Estates held a press conference (Tuesday 19 August) to tell the wider Caymanian public about their dilemma. Reverend Nicholas Sykes, the spokesperson for the group explained that residents had followed trucks leaving Whiterock’s illegal quarrying operation in Beach Bay and discovered that apart from ending up at one major private sector development site, the fill had also gone to the NRA and in particular in to the east-west arterial by pass.

The residents have also received a stay of execution this week as a result of the Department of Planning’s decision to postpone the original hearing planned for 27 August, allowing them a little more time to prepare their objections to the application made by Lorenzo Berry of Whiterock Investments to make his quarrying operation official. However, without legal representation and given the history of the situation residents say they are not confident that they will be able to prevent the inevitable granting of planning permission to turn their neighbourhood into a commercial quarry.

Berry has, according to residents and the evidence of a 17-foot deep crater on his land, been excavating and blasting in a low-density residential zone for a decade, on and off, contrary to planning permission (see Residents appeal for help in quarry dispute).

CNS contacted the Director of Planning Kenneth Ebanks for his thoughts on the subject but he explained that because the situation was in dispute he could not offer a contribution. "The subject matter is to be heard by the CPA in the near future and as such I will not make any comments as it may be prejudicial to the process.” He did however say he would be willing to discuss the issue once theapplication had been through the legal process.

Berry currently has an application pending to excavate and entirely level 44 acres of ocean front bluff and natural forest containing endangered, indigenous flora and fauna, which is currently as high as 30 feet in some parts. There is no doubt that this action will cause serious flooding to a number of Beach Bay communities should a storm occur and will cause untold damage to the environment as well as make some property owners’ land inaccessible.

The introduction of a commercial quarrying operation will also further disrupt the lives of the residents in the Beach Bay area and in particular the residents of Mahogany Estates who have already suffered enormously over the last ten years as a result of the blasting, excavation and removal of fill from the de facto quarry on their doorstep.

Despite the illegality of the operation and the residents’ persistent complaints to everyone, including Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts and Governor Stuart Jack, not to mention their attempts to enlist the support of various agencies and organisations, residents have had little support for their cause and have now gone public in the hope that someone will help them. The residents are also appealing for pro bono legal support to help them present their case and fight what they believe is both illegal and immoral.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps if the people have been ignored for so long by the Government then we should cut out the middle man and go straight to the UK with a petition, photographs, and documentation on this?  I sure as hell know this behaviour would not be accepted in the UK, and I also know that the UK will consider this extremely poor practice and will clearly see the blatant lack of action, perhaps even interest of the Caymanian government.  Indeed, the latter should be ashamed of themselves – they cannot possibly have any defence or excuse for procrastinating on this issue for so long.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Can we just concentrate on the issue and trying to get it resolved rather than stomp about pointing fingers at each other.  Berry is way out of line I think we can all agree on that.  The government should have done/being doing something as a matter of urgency – I think we can all agree on that.  Lets not lose clarity with the main issue by resorting to throwing blame accusations.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps the writer should read the National Trust for the Cayman Islands Law 1987 (1997 Revision) and then inform the organization what power it has to do anything about illegal quarrying. The writer’s time would be better spent critiscising the various departments and politicians instead of an over-stretched charity with an already overwhelming task. And I wonder what the writer has done to assist the Trust? Or are you just looking for someone else to blame for your own inaction?

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Director of Planning’s silence on decisions already made that are NOT part of the issuefor the proposed hearing is a symptom of the Department’s failure to abide by its rulings all along.

    The Director of Planning has no justification whatever to be silent to the press or to any member of the public about the Department’s submissions to the ComplaintsCommissioner in 2007. The Complaints Commissioner reported on these submissions in detail in April 2007, and part of this report is now in the public domain. Silence now on the part of the Director could be taken to mean that he might not support in the future the decisions and submissions made in the past to the Complaints Commissioner by his Department. This is an untenable position and is itself a symptom of the continuing powerlessness of his Department.

    The findings of the Complaints Commissioner, on advice tendered by the Department, about the illegal nature of what has been going on must be accepted by the Department, by the landowner and his lawyers, by the residents, by the government and by the public. These findings are now beyond question and cannot be disputed during the course of whatever hearing is conducted in the future.

    The Director of Planning’s feet must be firmly nailed to the gound on this point, and he should on no account be allowed to hide behind a cloak of silence on the grounds of "prejudice to the (future) process". On the contrary, it is his continued silence on the findings of fact by his own department and by the Complaints Commissioner that could prove to be prejudicial to the future process. Let him stand up for the truth and stop the shilly-shallying.

  5. Claudette Upton says:

    The people of Mahogany Estates need to lawyer up fast. It would be great if a lawyer could be found who would take the case on a pro bono basis, but if one can’t be found, they need to start doing some fundraising among families and friends so they can pay for legal services. The government of the Cayman Islands doesn’t have a tradition of listening to the people unless they have legal or political clout behind them.

    As for why the National Trust is not taking a position on this appalling situation, I’m a longtime member, and I have no answer to that question. I wonder myself.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Maybe the either the explosions are throwing rocks on to the BT roofs or illegal fill is dropping off the high speed trucks on to the Bodden Town roofs???

  7. Disgruntled Caymanian says:

    What is this island coming to?   First we have people throwing rocks and injuring and terrorizing a whole neighbourhood for One year and nothing is done about it and it could result in the death of people and children, and now we have people using hard core dynamite explosives and blowing up land illegally for 10 years it seems and nothing is done about it.  Is it legal to be in possession of dynamite explosives and to blow up land with no permission from Government?  Is owning and firing a gun illegally a worse crime than being in possession of dynamite explosives and exploding land illegally.  Dynamite explosives can take down huge buildings.  Is it legal to be in possession of this with no permission from Government?  Can we all go and buy and keep dynamite on us in our homes to use at our own free will?  What on earth is going on this island?  It is going to HELL because of jealousy, greed, and selfishness!!!  Yours Truly, A Disgruntled Caymanian!

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is absolutely outrageous!!  What on earth are the National Trust of the Cayman Islands doing about this,  or do they not really CARE either?


    Shocked neighbour !!!!