Protesters re-focus on tribunal in mangrove battle

| 09/11/2012

SS mangroves.jpgCNS): Campaigners trying to protect the coastline in South Sound, including a mangrove replenishment project, from development and the reclamation of an old boundary say they are switching focus to the Planning Appeal Tribunal (PAT) and away from the courts. Without endless resources, the Protect South Sound Group said it could be more effective in preventing a precedent being set regarding costal boundaries with the tribunal rather than trying to fight in the courts for a temporary stay on the works. As a result, they have agreed to drop their legal action until the PAT in exchange for the developer agreeing not to begin construction of the seawall and to protect the mangroves until the hearing.

The campaign group believes that the PAT will convene before the end of the year and say winning the appeal is more important than trying to stop the developer from working in the short term. While the developer is still filling in lots, he has agreed to hold off on the seawall and protesters say he has also agreed to minimise damage to the mangrove replenishment project in the area.

A spokesperson for the Protect South Sound Group explained that the campaigners decided to settle outside of the courtroom this week to allow them to concentrate all efforts, resources and manpower on the forthcoming appeal of RC Estates' original planning permission to the Planning Appeals Tribunal.

“The initial aim of the group to stop the dumping of aggregate beyond the disputed coastal boundary of South Sound was achieved and by taking the action we did we have allowed time for there to be a proper process up to that appeal,” a spokesperson said. “We have elicited concessions from the developer that will reduce environmental impacts should he restart his project before that appeal is heard.”

Hoping for an early date for the hearing, where all of the issues will be heard, including the critical argument over whether a sea boundary can be fixed, the campaigners said it was a difficult decision to abandon the court route to stop the fill from being poured into the ocean, but reversing the CPA’s August decision has to be the main battle. The group also expressed its disappointed that, despite requests from the DoE and local politicians, Attorney General Sam Bulgin has refused to take up the case when it could easily make an application to halt the work of the developer until the tribunal is heard.

“While this senseless and potentially unlawful destruction of the marine environment again reminds us of the desperate need for the National Conservation Law, in this case, with existing laws, the government is empowered to take action to prevent the destruction of Cayman's marine environment on what is very likely crown land,” the group said Thursday. “However the Attorney General has thus far failed to take action in response to requests from the DoE and MLAs to request an injunction to halt filling by RC Estates to allow time for the outstanding legal issues surrounding high water mark and fixed boundaries to be resolved.”

The campaigners are hopeful that their efforts with PAT are successful as the decision has far wider implications than this particular 2,000 foot stretch of local coastline. If the group fails to get the decision of the CPA overturned, the issue could open the floodgates (literally) as other developers and land owners dig into the history books for boundaries of old that they could justifiably claim again, despite their disappearance into the sea.

A spokesperson said the importance of this fight could not be underestimated as they pointed to the need for wide community support. “We have to focus on the bigger picture of having the decision overturned so that this cannot happen to other coastal areas in Cayman,” a group member added.

The campaigners also believe there is a flaw in Cayman’s Planning and Development Law which has left them in their current predicament. The appeals tribunal, and not the courts, has jurisdiction over CPA decisions and the local court system can only come into play after the appeal, and with a back log of more than six months, environments and eco-systems could be destroyed before those seeking to protect he country’s natural resources have a chance to redress disputed decisions.

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Comments (16)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is a great example of the people doing the government's work….where are they? why is the AG and the government so quiet on the issue???? Why do the people of Cayman have to spend all this money on doing the work that they are paid so handsomely for???

  2. Anonymous says:

    “Our the people’s coastline”??? That sounds very communist to me! I would like to know how that concept fits within our Torrens registered land legislative framework.
    And I hope they have a lot of patience waiting on the Planning Appeals Tribunal. It usually takes a few years to get a hearing and then months after that to get a decision. And good luck to them on the outcome of that as well.
    Maybe the reason the “campaign group” (whatever that is) withdrew their injunction is the same reason the AG has chosen not to be misguided by the DOE. Maybe, just maybe, they went away and read the relevant law and realized that they don’t have a leg to stand on legally. Maybe they thought it was better to get out before they were strapped with a claim for damages and costs for obtaining an injunction on a completely spurious and unmeritorious basis. Maybe, some of you ought to go and get some good legal advice too, before you start calling shame and blame on respectable people, just because they are “evil” developers.

    • Anonymous says:

      Crown land ie the people's land starts at the high water mark – making the coastline HRH's or Ours – however you want to see it. The coastline is Crown land. 

       

      If you have been following this at all you will see that many experts have commented to the press that they DO very much have a leg to stand on before the PAT.

      Sammy Jackson the developer's lawyer made wildly false arguments about the nature of fixed surveys, generally and regarding thehigh water mark on mangrove coastlines. 

      Former Cheif Land Surveyor and other top local lawyers have confirmed that Jackson's argument was false 

      Hislop would not have been allowed to fill out the 50ft if the incompetant CPA had not blindly followed Jackson's false arguments. 

      Obviously the 'protesters' can't tell you everything about thier injunction case or the case before the PAT as they will not want to damage thier standing before either of these bodies – so we will not know exactly why the injunction was withdrawn… at least until after the PAT hopefully overturns the CPA's approval. 

       

       

       

  3. Anonymous says:

    No species can survive in environment if environment itself is destroyed.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is ridiculous, the way this is reported!  To make it seem like the developer is making 'concessions' to stop damage to mangroves.  He PLANTED over 300 of the mangroves himself.  Why would he destroy them?  He  even said that he was using larger rocks and a silt screen to prevent contamination of the water.  It is absolutely astounding to me how CNS can just be so evidently biased. 

    I’m also not sure why no one is trying to take this action against Dart and his West Bay proposals.  He has it in the works to cut a canal through the whole island practically.  Why doesn’t this group move its efforts up there?

  5. Anonymous says:

    The Central Planning Authority need to be fired immediately!

    What outrageous and unexcusable negligence!

    Well, its either extreme negligence or corruption. So I shall I take the optimistic view that its negligence and in any case they should all be sacked! Top to bottom. 

    This is by no means the first such ridiculous and negligent decision. 

    Lets review a few others in the last24 months

    – canals, 1,000 ft long bridge, moving and cutting the canal through South Sound Rd – 'Emerald Sound'

    – approving the helipad in downtown GT which is an extreme hazard to the neighboring buildings and tourists in GT – and in violation of all sorts of aviation requirements for helipads. 

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow, that would be quite a site – that's 1/4 of the golden gate bridge.  CNS can you confirm that it is a 1,000ft bridge being built there?

      • Anonymous says:

        I heard it was 100,000 feet long and made out of gold! Gold I say!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Don't worry, tourists will still flock to the exciting Dolphinariums, the lovely Turtle Farm, and get their photos taken with an iguana trussed to a stick.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yes, RC Estates is filling away, and fast too! There are daily truck loads of material being brought to the seaside of thesite, being dumped and then spread.

     

    The love of money is the number one and greatest threat to the environment in all three cayman Islands.

     

    When there is no enviroment left, and everything is concrete, what will the tourists and investors do?? Move somewhere else, and Caymanians will be left holding the bag of rocks and a desolated environment.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is a tragedy and it is an even greater shame that our government makes no efforts to stop this clearly wrong environmental destruction!

      RC Estates ie Rene and Julie Hislop you should be ashamed of yourselves. You don't even have the decency to await the outcome of the appeals tribunal –  you now have heard it from many experts – the CPA and your lawyer were wrong –  you are filling crown property!  That is the people's Marine Replenishment zone! 

      I am outraged!

      It is wrong on any coastline! But this is our the people's Marine Park and Scenic Coastline!

       

      • Anonymous says:

        why is your attack so personal?  honestly!

        • Anonymous says:

          Actually, people need to know who they are dealing with, i support name and shame in the absence of any other lawful remedy.

        • Anonymous says:

          It is not personal to name the people responsible. It's transparency. They need to face their fellow citizens and defend this decision that they made for all of us. This goes for the members of the CPA too.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually you are wrong. The marine replenishment zone is identified on a map and just because the sea came further in does not mean the zone expanded automatically. It can only be expanded through law in a process similar to what DOE is doing now. This is RC Estates land that that is now submerged under seawater. The question is can the sea randomly reclaim your land and that is what the judge is about to rule on. BTW No mangroves in these islands are protected other than some in the north sound through the planning law and they are zoned storm buffer. We do know thatmangroves make excellent habitats but they sure are certainly not storm buffers given our recent experience.

        • Anonymous says:

          "We do know that mangroves make excellent habitats but they sure are certainly not storm buffers given our recent experience"

           

          Imagine if the mangroves were NOT there during the storm! You see what happened to the house next to the SS dock and houses (incl Mr. Lawrance's) all along the western end of south sound coast where the mangroves were not located?

           

          Leave te mangroves alone please.