Government pushes ahead with port

| 09/01/2009

(CNS): Despite mixed feelings in the community regarding the proposed plans to re-develop the George Town port to separate cruise and cargo facilities and install cruise berths, the governmentsays it is pressing ahead with the project and announced yesterday that the first phase of public consultation regarding the Environmental Impact Assessment will get underway next week and that the recommendations on financial modeling options for a public-private partnership are also due any day.

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism at the weekly government press briefing on Thursday morning, 8 January, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said plans were moving ahead with the port project and that environmental assessment, which will be conducted by CH2M HILL, will help determine how each of the proposed designs would perform under actual testing, as well as assess the potential detrimental impact on Cayman’s marine and land environment during and post development.

He said estimates for the cruise project range from US$109 to US$117 million depending on the design option, and a further US$71 million for the port facility. However, this would not be financed entirely by government as a result of a planned public partnership. The financial modeling options for this are being devised by KPMG, the LoGB said. In July the government entered into an MOU with investors Atlantic Star, who may prove to be the full or limited partner in the port’s development.

“KPMG has been engaged to conduct financial and ownership modelling on behalf of the Port Authority and the government.  This review is nearing completion and provides an independent basis for the Port Authority and government to assess options for achieving this critical infrastructure,” Tibbetts said.

Public consultation will begin next week to further help determine the terms of reference, he said.

“The EIA will be done in two phases, with the first phase being the scoping exercise on the terms of reference and the second phase involving the actual testing of the conceptual designs.  Three names of three qualified firms were submitted to the DoE, which selected CH2M HILL as the most qualified firm to conduct the Environmental Impact Assessment. CH2M HILL is well known to the DoE and the community, having worked on a prior environmental project locally,” Tibbetts added.

The DoE will direct the EIA and ensure that the terms of reference are broad. DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said at the briefing that she had no single major fears about the EIA but had defined some 14 areas of concern that she wanted to ensure were addressed. However, Tibbetts said the assessment would not be a “decisions maker” but “a decision informer”. He said it was meant to provide a sound basis upon which decisions can be made.

Charles Clifford admitted that if the EIA came back saying Seven Mile Beach would be destroyed, or if the development would expose George Town to serious danger in hurricanes, they would review the plans, but it appears government’s commitment to this development will not be dissuaded over limited environmental damage or pollution.

“The EIA will tell us what can be done to minimise the impacts and explore options to offset any negative outcomes which are anticipated,” he said.

The public are being given one week to comment and engage in discussions regarding Phase 1 of the Environmental Impact, beginning with meetings on 13 January for the general public and on 14 January for stakeholders from within both the public and private. Information will also be provided on a website to allow for public input via email to the DoE over the period of one week.

Critics of the cruise berthing facility have pointed out that this will not necessarily add to the financial benefit of the tourism industry, as Cayman is expected to continue managing a maximum passenger capacity in any event.

The LOGB said the plans would establish facilities which had the capacity to serve a maximum of 8 vessels – 4 berthed and 4 utilising tenders with a passenger capacity of up to 23,500 passengers per day. 

“However, just as the current facility has the capacity to cater to up to 20,000 passengers as we have done in the past, the actual capacity will be governed by a management plan such as is used today,” he added.

Currently  the total number of people in port on any given day is restricted to six ships or 15,000 passengers, whichever is greater. 

“This capacity is not static but is dependant upon both the capacity of the facility and the visitor experience as monitored by exit surveys and feedback from other stakeholders,” Tibbetts said, adding that the development was therefore to allow for some future growth, but the actual policy would still be determined by the carrying capacity of the facility and the experience of visitors and residents.



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  1. paulm says:

    I wounder how seriously they will take the up coming impact due to climate change – like sea level rise;

    Sea Level Rise Of One Meter Within 100 Years


  2. Anonymous says:

    It greatly concerns me that the proposed berthing plan is a fait accompli and the Environmental Impact Study is simply going through the motions for public relations purposes.

    Several years ago there was some concern about the loss of beach area around the Marriot and there was a public meeting held to discuss the beach sand movement. The sand movement is a complex seasonal interaction that must be protected.

    The confidence that the government seems to enjoy that these 2 docks won’t adversely impact the sand movement escapes me.

    The seven mile beach area is the jewel of the Cayman Islands and it must be guarded from illadvised development.