National Conservation Law – never this version

| 09/11/2012

Most jurisdictions in North America have an environmental protection law to protect the natural environment from the overzealous activities of man. Such a law, including the National Conservation Law proposed for the Cayman Islands, in order to be enacted, has to pass a number of tests: parliamentary democracy, affordability, economic growth, and reasonableness. 

Unfortunately, in my opinion, the proposed conservation law, for the reasons which follow, fails all of these tests.

Parliamentary democracy:

In a Parliamentary democracy such as ours, a Minister of the Crown has responsibility over a subject area, such as the environment, and is accountable to the Crown and the Legislative Assembly for the performance of those duties which accompany that responsibility. In the Environmental Protection Law of the Province of Ontario (Ontario Law), as an example, the responsibility for the environment and the duties and powers which go along with that responsibility reside with the Minister of the Environment for Ontario. Section 4(1) of the Ontario Law states, in part, the following: “The Minister, for the purposes of administration and enforcement of this Act and the regulations, may …” Under the Ontario Law, the Minister of Environment may delegate the performance of any his powers to a Director; however, his duties and the ultimate responsibility for administration and enforcement of the Law cannot be delegated.

Director of Environment: Section 5(1)(a) of the proposed Conservation Law states that the Director of the Department of Environment shall “administer and enforce the provisions of this Law”. This cannot be, as it violates our system of Parliamentary democracy. It is the Minister of the Environment for the Cayman Islands who must be responsible and accountable for the protection of the environment and the performance of the powers and duties which are stated in the proposed Conservation Law. Unfortunately, the Minister of the Environment is not even mentioned in the proposed Conservation Law.

National Conservation Council: The comment made above with respect to the Director of Environment also applies to the proposed National Conservation Council. This proposed Council, to be made up of 11 voting members (5 public officers and 6 civilians, with 5 to be appointed by the Cabinet and the other by the National Trust), would have power to: (a) approve “management plans” for protected areas; (b) approve “conservation plans” for protected and other species; (c) grant a permit to a person exempting him from the provisions of the Conservation Law; (d) requiring environmental assessments; and (e) refuse to agree to a proposed action where the latter would be likely to have an adverse effect on a “protected area” or on the “critical habitat” of a “protected species”.

One wonders to whom the proposed Council is accountable for the performance of its duties and the exercise of its powers. The proposed Conservation Law does not answer this question. Without accountability to the Minister of Environment, the system will not work as it will lead to an abuse of power by the unaccountable Council and/or unsatisfactory performance (deadlock). There is a saying that a camel is a horse invented by a committee; this applies to the proposed Council. Quite apart from the accountability aspect, given its membership of 11 and the makeup of that membership, the powers and duties given to the proposed Council are so numerous and broad that, as a practical matter, it will be unable to function effectively, even if given the funds and people to do so, which, in the current economic environment, is unlikely at best. 

Affordability:

Affordability has two aspects: (a) the cost of the administrative machinery established by the proposed Conservation Law to administer and enforce its provisions; and (b) the cost of the opportunities lost to the Islands, and its government, to receive money from activities which will be caught by such administrative machinery while the Director of Environment, the proposed Council, land owners, developers, the Cabinet and the Grand Court wrestle with the challenges created by “protected areas”, “buffer zones”, “protected species” (225 and counting),  “species” which may be threatened, the “critical habitats” of “protectedspecies” and “species” which may be threatened, “permits”, “licences”, “management plans”, “conservation plans” (one for each “protected species”) and the draconian penalty of CI $ 500,000 for the commission of an offence (every offence is said to be one of strict liability; that is, the words “knowingly” and “intentionally” are irrelevant to the commission of the offence).

If the two costs referred to above have been quantified, the amount should be revealed to the public. If unknown, in the current economic climate, the Islands cannot afford to establish an administrative machinery, with unknown costs, in the proposed Conservation Law.

Economic growth:

Given the current perilous state of the Cayman Islands economy, what the Islands need is economic growth and not inhibition of that growth. Given (a) the broad scope of the proposed Conservation Law; (b) the lack of a role for the Minister of Environment; (c) the powers given to and duties imposed on the proposed Council (given its membership structure), even if such a body is assumed to be in line with our principles of Parliamentary democracy; (d) the draconian penalty of CI $500,000 for a strict liability “offence” which  probably will inhibit or paralyze decision-making by “entities” and “public officers” who, pursuant to section 35(4) of the proposed Conservation Law must consult with and obtain the approval of the proposed Council before making almost any decision (I find thewording of the proposed section 35(4) frightening and capable of prohibiting all future development: “Every entity and public officer shall, in accordance with any directives made by the Council, consult with the Council and take into account any views of the Council before taking any action including the making of any decision or the giving of any undertaking or approval that would or would be likely to have an adverse effect on the environment generally or on any natural resource.”); and (e) the ability of any person or organization anywhere in the world: (i) to propose to the Council that an area of land, whether Crown land or private land, be designated as a “protected area”; and (ii) to petition that a “species” be added to the list of “protected species” (already at 225 and each having a “critical habitat”), the inexorable conclusion is that future economic growth will be inhibited by the proposed Conservation Law and that private enterprise will be further shackled.

Reasonableness:

It does not seem reasonable to me that we would: (a) ignore the principles of Parliamentary democracy; (b) bring into force the proposed Conservation Law without any idea of what the machinery to administer and enforce it will cost and without any idea of the cost of the money which will be foregone by the Islands and its Government as a result of the implementation of the proposed Law; and (c) ignore the need for further economic growth leading to jobs for Caymanians. It does not seem reasonable to me that we could ever believe that giving powers and duties to an unaccountable proposed Council (never mind funds and people to do the job), could work in the real world.

Conclusion:

Despite all of the above, Cayman needs a law to protect the environment, including wildlife. Such a law, however, must pass the tests of parliamentary democracy, affordability, economic growth and reasonableness. The current proposed Conservation Law is not the law we need, not now, not ever. We need to go back to the drawing board and start again. 

The Department of Environment's detailed response

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Category: Viewpoint

Comments (34)

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  1. Paul Simon says:

    With respect to the last low-blow comment, submitted anonymously of course, in the middle 1980s I was the Director of Health, Safety & Environmental Protection for a company with 15,000 employees. My only interest, whatever is done, is to try and ensure that it makes common sense in the real world.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Of course Mr Simon objects. He's a real estate lawyer. The more development and real estate boom – the more money he and his clients makes  …. 

     

     

    He's hardly an objective commentator. 

     

    Suprised he did not declare his interest. 

     

    There will still be loads of money to be made from real estate and development after the NCL is passed. Wish XXXX people would take a step back and look at the bigger picture for a moment. 

     

     

     

     

  3. Anonymous says:

    Well I've read Paul's side and the DOE's side.  I must say I agree with Paul and I will do all I can in my poewr to convenince the MLA's as well.  Any MLA that campaingns on passing this will certainly not get my vote.  Lets have a brainstorm and get something different together for the environment, but not this one.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately the well meaning beauracrats never learn. Instead of trying to gradually introduce amendments to the existing law, like naming the stingrays as a protected species etc, something no one would object to, we have got NOTHING done for the last 10 years with this comprehensive and forever DRAT Conservation Bill.

       

  4. Department of Environment says:

     

    The Department of Environment welcomes all points of view on the Draft National Conservation Law (NCL), especially if the input can be used to improve the final legislation to the benefit of the country. However, we feel it necessary to offer the following response to Mr. Simon’s opinions on why the Draft NCL fails to meet certain “tests” and should therefore be thrown out in its entirety.

     

    Parliamentary Democracy: Nothing in the proposed Bill undermines or fails to recognise the supremacy of Parliament. Since 2002 the Draft NCL has been repeatedly reviewed by successive Governments and has recently been reviewed by the Attorney General’s Chambers. Various amendments during these successive reviews have ensured that the vast majority of the decision-making authority/powers in the law rest with Cabinet and that those that do not fall to them directly may be appealed to them. At all times both the Director and the Council are bound to follow the directions of Cabinet (Section 42). These directions would be issued by and through the Minister for Environment. Unlike in jurisdictions such as Ontario the roles of Ministers in the Cayman Islands are prescribed by the Governor in Cabinet. Cayman Islands’ laws set out the roles of various departments and agencies which fall under the Ministers/Ministries. For example, theDevelopment and Planning Law sets out the roles of both the Department of Planning (in the person of the Director) and the Central Planning Authority, but makes no mention of the role and function of the Minister with responsibility for Planning. This formula holds true for most other Cayman Islands laws and regulations.

     

    Public involvement in decision-making processes related to the protection of the natural environment is the raison d’etre behind the National Conservation Council. Mr. Simon is correct that the Council is something of a camel. However, the camel’s unique characteristics make it highly adapted to its natural environment and, consequently, fit for purpose. While a horse or any other animal could have been designed to carry the weight of the Draft NCL, the initial thinking was that involvement in, and not merely consultation on, environmental decisions was something which the public desired. However, we look forward to gauging the public’s interest in trying to meet such a goal since, as Mr. Simon correctly points out, other structures would allow simpler decision making on and administration of natural resources by Government.

     

    Affordability: Mr. Simon is correct that this Law will change costs to government. Before any area can be protected, or a protected area or a listed species managed, the proposals for protection (the Conservation Plan) or management (the Management Plan) must first go through a round of public review before being put to Cabinet for approval (NB Cabinet – not the DoE or the Council). This process will have an associated cost. We recognise that there are cogent arguments (like cost, efficiency and simplicity) for setting aside the public consultation requirements and leaving the rule-making solely to either the technical or political arm of Government. However, it will be interesting to learn how the public wish to balance their involvement against the cost of that involvement. In terms of the other requirements under the law such as consultation prior to approving development, the DoE already undertakes this task when requested by the Planning Department/CPA or Cabinet; the draft NCL simply attempts to make consultation on environmental impacts before decisions are taken a legal requirement in line with international Best Practice and Section 18 of the Bill of Rights. Currently DoE’s staff is tasked with monitoring and enforcing relevant legislation across the Cayman Islands. This will not change with the Draft NCL but the variety of issuesthat need to be addressed will. In line with current practice, the DoE will endeavour to meet these obligations as cost-effectively as possible, including continuing to apply for the significant level of Grant-funding which currently supports our research and monitoring efforts.  Of greater importance, in our view, is that the Draft NCl recognises DoE’s Conservation Officers and confers on them the necessary powers to effectively enforce the legislation. As is widely known, DoE’s Conservation Officers currently lack many of the powers they require and thus have no practical legal ability to enforce the laws they are charged with upholding. Rectifying this will go a long way to improving the efficiency (and so reducing costs) of environmental enforcement in the Cayman Islands.

     

    Mr Simon suggests that the Draft NCL will cost the country in terms of “lost opportunities” for development. Under the Draft NCL, all decisions related to the approval of development remain with the current decision makers; the Draft NCL simply requires that the environment be taken into account when the decisions are made. This is because it is prudent and “good governance” to try to avoid (or at a minimum mitigate against) the significant costs to the country associated with (i) the loss of (free) irreplaceable environmental goods and services, and (ii) environmental damage and subsequent restoration requirements, which are incurred as a consequence of poorly conceived, inadequately planned and incompetently executed projects. In most developed countries (including some Canadian Provinces) these environmental costs are now required to be quantified and factored into any cost-benefit analysis that is carried out on development projects, before a decision is rendered.

     

    Regarding the ‘draconian penalty’, the $500,000 fine has been carried over from the current Marine Conservation Law which was first drafted over a quarter-century ago. When the Draft NCL was first released the penalty was specified as “up to $500,000”. However, the legal drafters have advised that current practice is to remove the “up to” clause. As currently pertains, it will be up to the Courts to determine the level of fine imposed upon conviction. (There is no minimum penalty within the Draft NCL). Similarly, it is understood that it will be up the Courts to give consideration to “intent”.

     

    With respect to the costs associated with acquisition of land for conservation purposes, the funding of protected areas and the management of protected species is the primary reason that some 15 years ago the DoE recommended the collection of the Environmental Protection Fees and the establishment of the Environmental Protection Fund, together with the legislation that would have protected the Fund for its intended purposes. Everyone should now be aware of the current status of the Environmental Protection Fund so it is not necessary to provide a lengthy explanation here, other than to point out that the problems with the Fund clearly need to be resolved so that the funds can be applied to the purposes for which they have been collected.

     

    Economic Growth: In the same way that the rest of the developed world manages to achieve economic growth and development while having laws which protect and conserve their natural resources, the Draft NCL will not stop economic growth in the Cayman Islands. Instead, the NCL is designed to promote sustainable development (i.e. development which results in net economic and social benefits without significant negative impact on the natural environment) by creating clear and equitable environmental impact assessment processes for all potential investors. Mr Simon claims that the Draft NCL has a “broad scope”. The scope of the draft law is in fact quite narrow – it deals with biodiversity conservation, primarily through the application of conservation measures to protect endemic species and their habitats, including mechanisms to assess and mitigate for the environmental impact of development projects on those habitats and species. The Draft NCL does not address the many other important environmental issues which the Islands face. Section 35 of the Draft NCL was deliberately written as is to ensure that the legislation would have minimal impact on individuals’ responsibilities in the development application process – most of the workload (the duty to consult prior to making decisions etc) in this section is borne by existing government agencies and entities, and as pointed out earlier, much of this inter-departmental consultation already occurs. What the Law does is codify and protect the best-practice of joined-up decision-making between different arms of government. As currently drafted and as Mr. Simon quotes, the requirement is to “consult with the Council” and “take into account any views of the Council”. The law does not provide that the Council or the DoE approve development; they simply provide relevant information on potential environmental issues arising from the development which must be taken into account by the decision makers. Is that really too much to ask? If the real objection is that the law requires Government’s environmental experts to be consulted at all, perhaps that should be plainly stated.

     

    With respect to protected areas and protected species, Mr Simon is correct that anyone can suggest (petition) that an area or a species be protected. However, protection can only ultimately be conferred by Cabinet who have to approve each species Conservation Plan and each Management Plan for a protected area, after the plans have been subjected to public review and comment. This hardly smacks of the autocratic, power-grabbing Modus Operandi which some posters to Mr Simon’s Viewpoint have attributed to the DoE. Mr. Simon concludes that the open and inclusive nature of the proposed processes will inhibit future economic growth and “that private enterprise will be further shackled”. The public are invited to weigh in on that conclusion because, as stated previously, the National Conservation Bill is still in draft form and is still open to amendment should something be deemed to be not in the public’s interest.

     

    Reasonableness: Having already addressed the points against which Mr Simon’s judges the Draft NCL to be unreasonable, the DoE would again point out that the Draft NCL has been subjected to almost a decade of (i) public consultation, (ii) agency, group and individual review, (iii) debate and (iv) redrafting in which all constructive input has been incorporated. In its current form the draft law represents significant compromise. At this juncture, Mr Simon’s (and other detractors’) conclusion that the law is “unworkable” and needs to “go back to the drawing board” without any detailed alternative suggestions is arguably unreasonable. However, as we apparently both agree that a law to protect and conserve the environmental resources of the country is essential, we invite Mr Simon to sit with the DoE at his earliest convenience to discuss the specifics of his objections. Further obfuscation and delay are tactics which our fragile environment and threatened resources can ill afford. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Paul Simon is a very bright expat lawyer whose contributions to the Compass and this website always generate debate. All power to him. But all power also to the response from the DOE (presumably Gina/Mike Austin). Whoever one agrees with, is it not great that we have expats and Caymanians debating this important topic in a civilised manner, rather than the horrible stuff we often get on CNS?

    • Just Commentin' says:

      Obfuscation? No one could be more guilty than thou, oh Gina disciple!  It makes me want to puke that anyone could be so devious while seeming that butter would not melt in your mouths. Wolves in sheep's clothing!

      For example you say:
      "Under the Draft NCL, all decisions related to the approval of development remain with the current decision makers; the Draft NCL simply requires that the environment be taken into account when the decisions are made." And…"Section 35 of the Draft NCL was deliberately written as is to ensure that the legislation would have minimal impact on individuals’ responsibilities in the development application process…the requirement is to “consult with the Council” and “take into account any views of the Council”. The law does not provide that the Council or the DoE approve development; they simply provide relevant information on potential environmental issues arising from the development which must be taken into account by the decision makers. Is that really too much to ask? If the real objection is that the law requires Government’s environmental experts to be consulted at all, perhaps that should be plainly stated."

      What the Law actually says is this: (emphasis mine)
      "35. (1) Subject to subsections (2), (3) and (4), every entity and public officer
      shall comply with the provisions of this Law
      and shall ensure that its or his
      decisions, actions and undertakings are consistent with and do not jeopardise the
      protection and conservation of a protected area or any protected species or its
      critical habitat as established pursuant to this Law."

      What the Draft NCL actually provides for is that every public body, board and civil servant must dance to DOE's fife because it is DOE who will write the tune. Rather than having "minimal impact" on individual responsibilities within other departments, the proposed NCL makes every single department, public officialand statutory board legally bound to be de facto vigilantes of DOE's gang of enviro-thugs. Ha! So much for your "minimal impact"! Sickening! You make the Gestapo look like a band of lovable Munchkins.

      Nice try at putting icing on a cow pie and calling it a "cup cake"! Guess what? After all your ostensibly objective verbiage, the proposed law still stinks. You must take all people of these islands for fools. That offends me greatly. My impression of your attempt at making the proposed tripe seem so very benign and reasonable is this:
      NAUSEATING!

      It is late and I am weary, however tomorrow is another day: at your invitation I could go on and eviscerate almost your entire posting. So please, do reply and inspire me to expose your posting and the proposed law for what it is: pure bullsh..

       

  5. Green Hornet says:

    Yes we should conserve as much as we can so thenext generation would know what a real tree looks like or bees buzzing in a garden. I agree with Peter mil urns comments. Why is it that people sitting on the CPA board are all hardware owners or developers alike…….what a waste!

    One another note considering all of the above why should the dump move to bodden town right in the middle of the central wetlands? It is madness the CPA, government, people for the for alliance and dart to even consider this plan. Think of the how many trees that will be cleared, how many wild homes destroyed not to thing of he envorinmenlal impact. Don’t get me wrong i am for sustainable development with future generations in mind but to move the dump to bodden town is just silly. We are just putting a band aid over the problem that would affect Cayman in the worst possible way.

  6. Just Commentin' says:

    Very well put Paul Simon!  

    What those who oppose your views fail to realise is that the unreasonableness and untenability of this flawed piece of legislation is the very reason that it has not yet been passed. Any law that calls for a $500,000 penalty for swatting or flitting a Cayman Brac sand fly is well beyond being unreasonable, it is ludicrous (at best).  

    If the two sides to this debate were to sit down and in the spirit of goodwill were to work out a compromise draft that would establish a reasonable balance between the human need for built environments and the natural environment at least we would be headed in the right direction.

     

    Even the simple-minded can perceive that a law which would make us all subject to a fine and jail time every time our foot touches the ground (lest we kill a certain species of centipede or scorpion), is a mindless law.  Imagine the number of of violations due to the mashing of countless protected bugs, weeds and critters that might be killed when we clear a piece of land for a modest house? The fines could amount to the total GNP of an industrialised country!

    Has no one else other than Paul Simon realised the implications here? No developer in their right mind would turn another shovel of earth in the Cayman Islands ever again if this dracoinian law were enacted in its present form.

    And imagine this: if a protected butterfly is found smooshed and gutless in your vehicle's grille you could be put in jail and bankrupted! Aww…c'mon! The proposed legislation is a sick joke! Quoting John McEnroe: "You cannot be serious!"

     

    And another thing…! Giving the Director of the Department of Environment sole responsibility to “administer and enforce the provisions of this Law” would be to create yet another autocratic fiefdom in our government. Have we not learned from our monumentally stupid mistake in voting in a constitution that allows the Premiere way too much power: Do we actually want to create another such nightmarish situation?

    The proposed new conservation law in its current draft is an affront to rational minds and reasonable people. Only abject morons would demand the draft legislation be passed in its present form. Thank God that our current government, though not without other serious flaws, at least has the good judgement not to have passed this horrid law.

     

    In my opinion, where our governments have failed us in seeing to it that a good, reasonable, effective and acceptable law is drafted and passed. This is not rocket science, it can easily be done. As it stand now we have a joke of a porposed law and no horizon in sight for seeing any advancement.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don't Comment. Please. Just don't. All you do is show your ignorance and give those of us who object to the law a bad image.

       

      1) "$500,000 fine for swatting a Cayman Brac san dfly". Thats not in the law. The people in charge know this so you weaken our arguments with such silliness.

      2) "make us all subject to a fine and jail time every time our foot touches the ground". Again, pure foolishness. Anyoen with sense knows thats not how the law will work. Anyone with sense knows thats not how its actually written, either.

      3) "Giving the Director of the Department of Environment sole responsibility to “administer and enforce the provisions of this Law” would be to create yet another autocratic fiefdom in our government." I think I see the problem. You have no idea how Cayman's laws are actually written. They are all like that these days. Person X is given responsibility Y. We wanted to be able to hold government accountable. This is the legal result. You can rail against the style but it makes you sound stupid to suggest that its unique to this Law and that it will create autocratic fiefdom's akin to the Premiere, who carries out his whims preciely because the rules are not being implemented as written in their entirety.

       

      Please, stop commenting. You're setting us all back with your ignorance.

      • Just Commentin' says:

        So you object to the proposed law? Really? Until you say why you oppose it I shall proffer that you are actually a proponent of the proposed law, and hence your critique of my comment. Why is this a bad law? C'mon! Lay down your cards. I did. Your turn!

        Did you ever bother to actually read the law in its entirety and study its schedules of protected species? Apparently not. (Perhaps the Latin names at the end were just too much for you, eh?) How you envision (fantasize) the law will operate is of little relevance to the potential of how it actually could operate due to how it is currently written. The bloody law does prohibit the killing of species listed in Schedule 1, Part 2.  For Part 2 it will prohibit "collecting" or "hunting" anything listed therein. In the definition section of the Law one definition of "hunting" is "killing". Non-selective swatting or flitting a swarm might kill one of the poor ol' Diptera Lutzomyia caymanensis braci listed in Part 2 of the law. Poof! Guilty!  (With me so far because you apparently missed this part, huh?) There is more…!

        Every single species on List 1 or 2 will have to have its own "Conservation Plan"…yup…every bug, fish with bones (even pelagic fish whose range includes the islands) sand fly (Diptera Lutzomyia caymanensis braci), scorpion (Heteronebo caymanensis), slug (Veronicella laevis), and lots of what most sane Caymanians consider to be just plain old weeds and pests. Since you are so incredibly bright and I am so ignorant, I will leave you to sort through all the spooky Latin binomial nomenclature as a (badly needed) exercise in expanding your mind. But I promise that when (well, if…) you do, you will see a lot of things there that we sane and reasonable Caymanians do not want to protect and many things that a lot of us would kill on sight either because it is a pest (or it is tasty and very abundant). We do not want our money wasted on Conservation Plans for weeds, centipedes, and Lion Fish.

        Here is what the Law says: (emphasis mine)
        "16.   (1) The Council shall formulate and adopt a conservation plan for each
        protected species whose range includes the Islands
        .
                (3) Conservation plans shall set out the steps which the Council considers
                to be necessary to achieve the conservation and survival of the species
                and its critical habitat and shall include-
                        (b) in the case of species listed in Part 2 of Schedule 1 –
                                (i) a prohibition of all non-selective means of hunting
                                or collecting specimens
        and of all actions likely to cause
                                the local disappearance of the species or serious
                                disturbance to any of its populations;

        The Law mandates a Conservation Plan that must prohibit "non-selective" means of "hunting" (killing) or even serious disturbance of a local "population" of List 2 species. Yeah, ok… "Non-selective" is subject to interpretation; however, it is universally accepted that things like spraying pesticides (i.e. "what we call "Flit"), dousing patches of land with herbicides (spraying weed killers like Roundup), and bulldozing, are universally accepted as non-selective methods in their respective spheres. So is tramping through a field and smooshing things. (Which is why in other countries certain areas with populations of certain protected species are off-limits to pedestrian traffic.) While it may be unreasonable to prosecute someone for spraying a swarm of sand flies or RoundUp-ping a field of weeds, such actions are nonetheless violations under the Law if a List 2 species is killed or their habitat harmed in the process. Do you disagree?  Nah, didn't think so.  My question to you is why would you be so silly as to promote such a Law?

        The Law mandates a Conservation Plan for EVERY species listed inPart 1 and 2 (Protected Species under the Law) This list includes all hard and soft corals, ALL bony fish(!), ALL indigenous or MIGRATORY birds, all Echinoderms, all species of Porifera…the lists go on and on. This could be thousands of discrete, specific Plans costing untold millions and millions of dollars.  As the proposed Law reads now, the "bony fish" Pterois volitans (look it up) has to have its own Conservation Plan!  Too bloody stooopid for words! In this this economic climate I think our precious financial resources can go toward a much more productive cause than producing Conservation Plans for sand flies, snails, slugs, weeds and Lion Fish.

        I agree that autocratic fiefdom's are not unique to this Law. You fail to see that creating all these autocratic fiefdom's was not such a great idea and is a contributing factor to the going-to-hell-in-a-hand-basket thing we are experiencing. Do you really think that the autocratic fiefdom created by the proposed law will somehow be more benign than Bush's grand reign? He has the power of the Constitution supposedly keeping him in check and yet, as you yourself state, he carries out his whims precisely because the rules are not being implemented as written. So what gives you the idea that the administration of the proposed conservation law will be any different? A six-foot pink bunny told you so or what?  I ask that because what you suggest is evidence of delusionary thinking that is exceptional even for a CNS comment.

        I have not even touched on the many Trojan Horses contained in this law, from which there is ample potential to disallow or stop just about any type of development whatsoever. (Consider the term "serious disturbance"; also look up all references to "critical habitat" and see for yourself.) Please do not get me started on this one because it will not be pretty.

         

        Anyway, yeah, in my opinion the proposed law  in its present form is well beyond draconian…it is just plain horribly stupid in its tenor and scope. Its promoters and adherents calling for its immediate passage are abject morons in my ever-so-humble opinion. If the shoe fits… Oh, I forgot…you oppose the proposed law, right? My bad.

        • Anonymous says:

          Actually, that’s one of my objections. The conservation plans, even with the ‘work on them in order of priority’ clause (I can’t be bothered to look it up right now) and similar sections are going to be a huge amount of work for whoever has to do them for very little benefit to you and I. However, if you had bothered to listen when they came around a few years ago (where I learned about the above mentioned clause) you will have noted that  they themselves admitted that most of them would be things like ‘more research needed’ or ‘save some, not all’ or ‘ 5/10 per person per day’ catch limits (lobster/conch). All worked out after public consultation rounds. Like they’re doing now with the Marine Parks. Like I said, especially after sitting through one of the Q&A sessions of one of those marine parks meetings, there aint going to be nothing much happening after this Law is passed.

           

          It’s when people like you start claiming that bulldozing is a means of ‘hunting or collecting specimens’ that you make the rest of us look like idiots. Or make us reconsider that maybe the DoE is right if that’s the sort of ignorance they have to deal with. I wouldn't support a law with a loophole someone could drive a buldozer through. So, yes, I do disagree that  since, as you yourself admit, it is “unreasonable to prosecute someone for spraying a swarm of sand flies or RoundUp-ping a field of weeds” that there will be a violation if it happens to a List 2 species.

           

          Regarding the fiefdoms rant, I see your problem. You’re so mad at the world and the government that you would rather no laws than any improvement on the constant slow spiral of destruction that we’re currently on. Just in case anyone had the power to say ‘stop’. I can live with the power that this law provides to the Government, because I think the checks in it are more than sufficient to the need. From my perspective to call this draconian is to abuse the word. I say this because I don’t think the law will work. Though I oppose it, I am convinced that it will not work out the way your fever dream imagines it will. I guess we’re reduced to agreeing that we both think the other is a moron. Because your ranting sure fits the definition.

  7. Hawksbill says:

    Maybe it is unworkable. The fact that thousands of square feet of land are being cleared for an unnecessary road does make one wonder though. Think of all the natural beach land that has been taken time and time again from us. With the NotFor Cayman Alliance, they are taking the very best section of SMB. Grand Cayman is slowly turning into a concrete jungle. We think that construction and “development” is the answer? Give me the days of the old Holiday Inn any day.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Excellent article Paul. It simply isn’t viable to turn the entire country into one large nature preserve, to be reigned over absolutely by Gina and her minion. There is simply no way that any government would get away with entirely displacing landowners’ natural right to develop their land. This legislation is beyond draconian, and any parliament that passes it would be committing political suicide. This is the creation of a man who left the practice of law to form a bird watching lodge in Texas (!), so we really couldn’t expect any better. The day that this Law passes there will be hell to pay in this country and the tax payers will be picking up the tab.
    Without question, we could do with some balanced environmental protection. I would suggest that we start with things like pollution from pthe GTLF poisoning the North Sound and MRCUs spray planes spraying pesticides over everyone as well as CUCs smoke stacks that pump out diesel fines over everone in the lee of them, and while we’re at it, we should figure out what’s killing people with cancer at a higher rate that anywhere else in the western hemisphere. When we get those monumental things fixed, then we can start talking about sustainable development. It is simply amazing how the DOE tends to focus on development and yet such obvious forms of pollution are left unabated without any real comment from them.
    In any event, there are many developments that have had in recent times to provide EIAs before the CPA will even consider the application, and on each and every application for major development the CPA consults the DOE. They might not blindly adopt the DOEs recommendations, but, then again, they legally shouldn’t do that anyhow.
    It may be that there are truly environmentally sensitive areas of the islands that need the strigent type of regulation that the proposed NCL offers, but without a doubt landowners in those areas will have to be compensated if their lands are designated as undevelopable by such legislation. It is therefore assinine to propose that such legislation should be imposed wholesale across Cayman and landowners rights be damned. I am sure that the proponents of this bill either don’t realize it’s dreadful effect or don’t care if anyone else can develop their land. In either case, I think their opinions really shouldn’t matter to the people that do.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are an ignoramous. If you actually read the law, instead of reading what your bad-mindedness makes you want to believe is there, you would see that nothing you claim and everything you want, is actually in the law.

  9. peter milburn says:

    With due respect to you and your comments.May I remind you that without a healthy vibrant environment we will make matters even worse and for all intents and purposes put a lot of people out of work.I agree that we need development BUT sustainable development.Comments about the make up of the Conservation Advisory brd are mute in my opinion for one cant have a board made up of anti conservation members as this would defeat the purpose.Same goes for the Planning board which is made up mostly prodevelopment members.Hardware owners contractors etc.Is this not a serious conflict of interest?I have lived here for 47 years and this has ALWAYS been the problem with board make up.Most all selected or handpicked by the Govt of the day.We need to get away from that mentality and get on with the running of the country for the benefit of ALL not just the chosen few.Here is my number in case you wish to "talk" 916-0814.Again with all due respect.

    • Anonymous says:

      But Peter, my view has always been that people who actually knew something about building and constructon and knew how to interpret plans would be best suitted to make these kinds of decisions.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Governemnt has no problem Passing poorly thought out laws that benefit the developers and then fixing them later.  (i.e. the planning law). Maybe it is time we pass some knod of conservation law and if necessary fix it later.  

    The excuse for not doing the right thing is always. "we can't afford to.   Is that what we teach our children?

     

     

  11. Anonymous says:

    Paul Simon – Thank you sir, very much.

    The current draft is completely unworkable

    • Anonymous says:

      To which draft do you refer, the 2004 UDP Draft or the hacked up and weakened / useless 2008 PPM Draft?

      • Anonymous says:

        Both – Satisfied?

        • Anonymous says:

          NO, NO, NO!

          There you have the answer!

          Now, are you one of those who would do as little as possible to protect our natural environment?

          Would you put in writing exactly what you believe the National Conservation Law should contain?

          If yes, then answer in this column, then we can arrange a meeting.

          Otherwise, then in my personal opinion you do not have the interests of the Cayman Islands in your heart.

           

           

  12. Anonymous says:

    On the point of Affordability –  you are  wrong.

    The DoE already currently performs most of these functions – so there would not be a significant increase in resources needed. The issue is that currently there is no requirement for EIAs and Planning etc are not explicitly forced by law to require EIAs or to take in to account the DoEs advise. 

     

    EIAs would only be required for development in specified environmentally sensitive areas. 

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      And that goes back to the problem of this law.  If your land, whether it was inherited from your grandfather or if it was something you used your own hard earned money to buy, is designated as environmentally sensitive, in order to build your house, you would have to commission an EIA at great cost.  Basically, you would be left with trying to prove a negative – that his that your land is not environmentally sensitive.

      • Anonymous says:

        Anonymous 10:56 you clearly do not understand the law as there is nothing in the law that would automaticallyrequire anyone to "commission an EIA at great cost" if they were building a house on an environmentally sensitive piece of land and even is an EIA was to be required you obviously do not understand the way that an EIA is supposed to work. Please stop spreading propaganda.If you have a genuine point, state it clearly with truth and integrity.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Economic Growth: what we need is BALANCED economic growth – economic growth generated from construction desperately needs to be controlled. Developments which will have a significant environmental environmental impact – we do not need!

    There is huge potential for continued economic growth from developments which are environmentally friendly. 

    Furthermore this type of development in the future will only enhance our currently weak tourism product. 

    The NCL has already been watered down and revised numerous times. 

    The compromises and negotiations have been made over the last 8 years. 

    Mr Paul Simon you are a decade too late. 

    Now is the time for the National Conservation Law in its current form and nothing less!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Very well put, couldn’t agree more

  15. Teressa Green says:

     

    It never ceases to amaze me the amount of effort that people in Cayman are putting into ensuring that we will never get the environmental protections we need to maintain the health and beauty of these islands. When exactlywill people realize that continued economic growth at the expense of the environment will eventually  — and that day is fast approaching – be self-defeating. We need to curtail development and we need the environment to be an equal consideration whenever we do. It can no longer play second fiddle to cash. 

    This is not even for tree hugging, lentil eating, hippy reasons it is because when a natural environment is eventually destroyed so are the humans in it. Without trees we cannot breathe and without soil we cannot grow farm and produce food.  Without oceans we cannot fish and without clean water we will all dehydrate and die. The issue of not being able to eat, drink breathe dollar bills is such an old and cringey cliché and by now should have sunk into the psyche of every capitalist on the plant and I am loathe to use it — but really? 

     

    Please will someone spell out to me what will it take?

    Exactly when will people realize we are not a bunch of morons harping on for the sake of it but that the planet really is in jeopardy? We will lose this war with nature and i and so many others don't even want to fight it in the first place.

    We can’t even win the war on drugs so how those who see continued economic growth spurred by development, property ownership and the cult of the individual and its obvious war on the environment as being a model for success is beyond me.

    Nature will win with incredible ferocity and savagery.It is merely a matter of time. But there is an alternative we can live harmoniously with nature and use our brains and technology to give mother earth a break . Giving up our endless and selfish pursuit of money and stuff by creating a more equal and sustainable society is ultimately the only way we will be around long enough to reap any real future rewards.

    • Just Commentin' says:

      Sorry to burst bubbles here Teressa, but because in this industrialised world virtually 100% of economic growth is at the cost of the natural environment; and because the global model for the production of wealth in modern countries entails either the unsustainable extraction and refinement of raw materials, minerals, and energy, or manufacturing (or both); and because virtually all of development to further human habitats and environments have a cost to the natural environment (and this would be true even if we were still cave dwellers, for the cave man's digs entailed the expulsion of bats and other critters that loved dark dank abodes), 100% sustainability is pretty much a pipe dream akin to the search for a perpetual motion machine.

      But without 100% sustainability it is just a matter of time before humans as a species cease to be. The best we can do is to slow the pace and postpone the inevitable. To me this is akin to putting a brain-dead person on life support: why the fuss?

      The danger of your way of thinking, Teressa, is that we are not a wealth-producing country; our economic growth depends on physical development which always, always, always has a "cost to the environment".  You seem to want to eliminate that cost, right? The only way to eliminate this cost is to eliminate physical growth and thereby eliminate economic growth. Probably not really a good idea, huh?

      If you a bit of research in anthropology and the evolution of our species you will see that the "the cult of the individual" has been pretty much an ingrained and significant characteristic of hominid societies even before homo sapiens appeared. This is not going to change to any meaningful degree at this late stage in our social evolution.

      Really now,  are so-called "environmentalists" any less a part of the the "cult of the individual" in their pursuits? Do they really care about the Earth and the environment and furry and green things as much as put on? Or are they actually just obsessed with the fantasy of existing in a "green" Utopia?  If they really cared about the Earth and its environment, then logically, they would do the Earth and critters a favour and commit suicide and advocate that all humans do likewise because even the most rabid environmentalists I know cause the destruction and deaths ofgreen things and critters; and all  have aspects of their lifestyle that are "unsustainable".  For example: every damn "environmentalist" around here that I know have their houses connected to the electrical grid and they gobble up huge quantities of electricity produced by combustion of fossil fuel.

      Unless a global catastrophe or global totalitarian draconian "green" government intervenes to drastically change human society, humanity will never even approach 100% sustainability. And even if this did happen it would just be a few millennia before we reach the same critical mass and "13th hour" that we have now.

      I sense a bit of confusion in your perspective: first you state that "the planet really is in jeopardy", then you say that "Nature will win with incredible ferocity and savagery. It is merely a matter of time." So, which is it?  If nature will ultimately win then the planet is not in any jeopardy, right? It is we humans that are in deep doo-doo.

      I agree that humans might not be around for much longer if we keep up the current pace of environmental damage. But this should be great news to tree-huggers!  What is the problem? The cult of the Doctrine of the Manifest Destiny of Human Dominance is the problem! Truth is, once humans are gone, Mother Earth will begin to heal herself and this planet will one day be pristine and green once more…just waiting for another intelligent and self-aware dominant species to evolve and start the cycle all over again. Provided of course a major meteor does not strike the planet and strip it of its atmosphere first.

      You say that "we will lose this war with nature". Herein lies the fundamental tension: What is this "nature" you speak of? Have you ever stopped to think that perhaps we are not fighting a "war" at all? Perhaps as a species we are just being faithful to our nature (much like a cat torturing a mouse for its own entertainment) and nature is taking its true and rightful course – the natural result of which is that we humans are eventually "selected out" due to our own destructive habits and activities. This could indeed be a very natural progression. It has happened to many other species over the vast epochs of time: a species exerts an overwhelmingly unsustainable impact on its range and it becomes extinct. Nothing new here.  Have you ever stopped to think that you are being arrogant – and we are being arrogant as a species – to think that we can buck nature and maintain our hold on Mother Earth as her dominant species forever just because we have a superior brain and an opposing thumb?  Maybe by Mother Nature's design humans and their society are not destined to be any more than a short blip on the vast radar of time.

      Do bear in mind that we are not the first dominant species in Earth's history – we simply took over from the last one. Maybe Mother Nature has another dominant species just waiting in the wings for us to loose the "war". Just as the Earth has not missed countless other extinct species, we will not be missed by the Earth when (not if) we depart. If we are as a destructive to Mother Earth as you imply, she is better off without us anyway. 

      So maybe it is just a matter of time after all and the clock it ticking to the close of our reign on Earth.

      Just some food for thought.

      • The Rt. Hon. Anon says:

        You went to a lot of trouble to type up all that Bull. Teressa's got it right, more or less. OK we need some development but why can't we have development at a gentler pace? 

      • Dr. Anthony Britsen says:

        My Dear Just Commentin',

        Obviously you are an educated man, or woman.  It's difficult to imagine an educated person having such an outlook on life, or unable to accept that humans can live in harmony with nature.  Do you honestly believe that nature is doomed because of humans?  Do you believe the Cayman Islands are doomed if we don't continue to lay concrete, build condos and roads….. or gigantic ship docks?  Your prophecy of the destruction/extinction of humanity will no doubt come to pass, but let's hope it's not in the next thousand years or so.  That being said, why don't we make our lives here in the Caymans more fruitful and enjoyable by preserving the things that we find beautiful and useful in our lifetimes?  Do we want to follow in the footsteps of other "progressives", and become a solid concrete and steel megacity like Hong Kong?  I don't.

        Respectfully,

        A. Britsen

  16. Anonymous says:

    Excellent article!