Governor backs environment

| 12/09/2013

(CNS): After more than a decade of waiting, 2013 could be the year that Cayman’s natural land environment finally receives lawful protection. Minister Wayne Panton, who has responsibility for the environment, has already made a commitment to steer the National Conservation Law through before the year is out. Now the new governor has added her voice to calls for responsible management of the local environment. During her acceptance speech in the Legislative Assembly last Friday, the natural world was one of the issues singled out by Helen Kilpatrick. Although it is not part of her office’s direct responsibility, the UK’s latest representative said she was committed to the management of the islands’ natural resources.

Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie and her team have lived in hope that the National Conservation Law (NCL) will make it onto the statute books before it is too late, and they have persistently warned that the ecological clock has been ticking down for many of the islands' unique species, which are in serious danger of disappearing without proper protection.

Ebanks-Petrie has also warned that Cayman cannot continue to develop without giving the same consideration to environmental issues as it does socio and economic ones, and argued against continuing to allow major projects to begin without carrying out environmental impact assessments.

Although the department offers its opinion to the Central Planning Authority on all major developments, the recommendations and advice is almost always ignored.

In her speech following her swearing into office, Kilpatrick said that on her short visit to the Cayman Islands in July she had found the natural beauty of the islands truly captivating.

“The beauty of the islands was eclipsed only by the warmth of the welcome I receivedfrom those Caymanians and others I had the pleasure to meet,” she said, before making it clear she would be championing the cause, even though it is outside her direct remit.

“Whilst the elected government is responsible for the protection and conservation of the islands’ natural assets, I am committed to working with the government and civil society to ensure that these assets are managed and protected in a manner that benefits their incredible value,” she added.

In addition to the passage of the NCL, the DoE has also completed its consultation on the enhancement of the marine parks legislation. The need to improve those laws has been demonstrated by the success of 25 years of protection and the need to maintain and increase that protection in the face of ever growing threats to the local marine environment.

With costal development still forging ahead, threats to mangroves and fish stocks, and the increasing pressure on marine habitats from climate change and bleaching, the battle to preserve the precious coral reefs, which is the primary draw for the overnight tourism market, remains as pressing as ever.

With an environment minister with a genuine interest in conservation, having been a leading member of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands for many years, and the new governor offering her commitment,  local environmental and conservation groups have their fingers crossed that this could be the year that government finally places real value on its natural assets.

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  1. Knot S Smart says:

    Somehow the weeds in my yard must have gotten wind of all this discussion about saving the environment…

    I swear they grew 1 ft tall in the last 4 days…

  2. Anonymous says:

    I wonder how many of you have actually read the draft of that proposed law?  While I am totally for protecting the environment that draft is bad and needs serious modification….it would in effect bring most development to a halt….and our economy cannot exist without development. We need a balanced piece of legislation. PLEASE READ THAT DOCUMENT….then comment.  

    • Green Hornet says:

      The "document" in one form or another has been around for 13 years. There have been many public meetings for input, input has been recieved and ignored by previous governments which have continued to use the "we need another public consultation" escape route. It is time it was passed. This kind of fear-mongering is typical. We cannot continue our present inability to protect just about any land-based habitat. We are way below the 13% minimum recommended by the Bruntland Report many years ago. We're around 4% which is pretty much all National Trust owned land. This not something we should be proud of, as the rest of thre world continues to leave us well behind in protected areas. We can start by using the millions of dollars supposedly gathered for this purpose from the Departure Tax, but which continues to be sucked into general revenues with no explanation.

    • Anonymous says:

      I've read it. My opinion is that it will nto stop development. Far from it, it will barely achieve any conservation benefit in anything like a short time frame. I refer, by example, to the need for months of public consultation before a piece of governemnt land may be made, by the government, in to a portected area.


      When you claim that it will stop develop can you site the section and explain how it will do so?

    • Anonymous says:

      It does not sound like YOU have read the NCL. 


      Enough of this baseless scaremongering! Give us some facts to support your argument. 


      I have read the NCL and see no evidence of where it will shut down development. On the contrary – it will have many positive spinoffs for the economy. The only type of development it will shut down is irresponsible environmentally destructive development – which is the type of development that no one wants anyway (e.g. East End Seaport, Emerald Sound, Oil Refinery etc. ). 


      Largedevelopments in environmentally sensitive areas will be made to conduct Environmental Impact Assessments – a standard procedure in developed countries – and something that should definitely be done and is often done now, however its not currently required by law (or taken seriously enough by the CPA). 


      The NCL will be good for many landowners – small and large – who own land in remote areas of the island as they will now be able to sell their land to the Government at fair market value as the NCL introduces protected areas / national parks – and a mechanism for the individuals to sell their land (ONLY if they want to) to the Government and for it to then be converted to Protected Areas. 


      • Anonymous says:

        And pray tell where government will get money to buy this land??  Also we have seen that government never wants to pay the correct price even if they have money…if your land could be in a protected area you loose….and you loose big time!!

        • Well Duh! says:

          From the EPF money that is currently being collected and not used for its intended purpose.

          Millions and millions just sitting there and being used to cook the books.

        • Anonymous says:

          50 million dollars is currently sitting in the Environmental Protection Fund.


          The Fund generates around 5 million dollars each year. 


          The fund and related fee on arrivals/departures was set up for buying land for conservation and other conservation purposes. 

    • Anonymous says:

      You are correct…an EIA costs $300-400,000 and takes over 6-8 months….few Developers will put out that type of cash without some guarantee of success. …this will stifle development. Ah well I guess we are back to relying on the diminishing tourist trade. 

      • Anonymous says:

        maybe they could throw another $3oo,ooo at a politician to guarantee sucess. oh wait….

      • Anonymous says:

        EIAs cost on average $65,000

        Only large scale developments in environmentally sensitive areas will have to do EIAs – and if someone hoping to do a large development is not prepared to spend 65k to be able to mitigate environmental impacts then they should take their development dollars elsewhere. We do not want or need that type of development in the Cayman Islands!

        'in the context of the overall budget for the development, the cost of compiling an EIA will usually be relatively small. Research on EIAs carried out throughout the EU suggests that the average cost of an EIA is around €62,000, representing approximately 1% of project development costs'

  3. Anonymous says:

    Great news. I hope that 2013 can come to a close and we can be proud of our governement that it has taken the bold step to enact credible environmental legislation.  Oh how long this has taken to come even this close. Thanks Wayne and thanks Gov for putting your voice behind this important matter. 

    Some commented on people need jobs, why focus on this issue.  The agenda to get Cayman on a sustainable track is not a unifocus one. We have to simultaneously tackle a whole lot of different things all at once to bring about the alignment needed to drive the growth and stability of these islands for the longer term. Where we run aground is that we want it all right now! 

    Jobs creation won't come by magic or some incredible action by itself, but by a focus on the broad agenda which has been left for so long unattended. 

    If we fail our future generations again this year by not attending to this legislation, we are also directly impacting short and longer term the tourism industry.  So, now do you see the connection to jobs?  And what about our future generations, what will we leave for them to enjoy as we can now?

    Everything we do here is connected which is why we need to be sensible about each move on this chess board we have set up to win Cayman back. Every play we make from 2013 forward matters, and none is independent of the others. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I'll believe they are serious when they get a "PROPER" recycling system set up on the Islands instead of just burying almost everything in holes in the ground!!!.  The dump on the Brac is an environmental disgrace!!!.

      • Scot Free says:

        You all got plenty new holes dug in dat bluff. Use em……..

      • Anonymous says:

        You only have to look at the recent MLAs over there and all will become clear.

  4. 4Cayman says:

    Great news! Now turn your attention to Dart development and the ritz as they continue to tear down the north sound mangroves! Lets hope the laws are passed before your tenure has expired.

    • Anonymous says:

      You mean all thats left of the north sound mangroves that Caymanians have already torn down?  And now that your all done pass a law that won't "intitle" anyone else to do the same thing?  Grow up. 

  5. Anonymous says:

    Blah,blah,blah. Where is the money coming from to buy property like in the central mangrove? All of this environmental protection takes money. So all the laws in the world will not help . The National trust is almost broke. Where is the money to buy the property to save it?

    • Anonymous says:

      The money is all going to National welfare system known as Civil service.  $250 million a year.  Add Cayman Airways and Cayman turtle farm etc. and nothing is left.  Its called priorities.  And its why the inviroment can only be saved by expats and not the Caymanians who have done the most damage already.

    • Green Hornet says:

      It can come from the Environment Tax (aka Departure Tax) collected with every airline ticket. I last heard it was aorund $50 million. Probably more by now. 

      • SSM345 says:

        We have all heard of this "Environment Fund" but I will bet my left nut that the Govt. have been siphoning funds for years for other purposes and there is a minimal amount if not nothing left in it.

        With a fund supposedly beteen 40-50 million, would that not be enought to do something abouth Mt. Trashmore? Probably so, so why has nothing been done? Because it no longer exists..

  6. Anonymous says:

    I never know wher to ask  this so I'll put it here.  Is that big overflowing dumpster at Barkers a legit dump sub- station, or just a little secret perk for West Bayers?   Can I dump my construction   debris  there?  Anybody?

    CNS: You could post the question in the CNS Public Forum. See the menu bar at the top or the latest forum topics on the LHS column.

    • Anonymous says:

      Or contact the Environmental Health Department. They handle dumpsters. They should be able to tell you its status.

  7. See Level says:

    I have high hopesthat Minister Panton can make progress on this. The last Governor was fairly useless in relation to the environment, so I am pleased that Ms. Kilpatrick has come on board.

    BUT the "Tribe", aided and abbetted by the "Tribal Leaders", will not allow any tangible progress on this as long as there are still grouper holes to pillage, conch and turtle to poach and cliffs to quarry.

    The "Tribe" operates on a "I gine get mine" basis. It will fight tooth and nail until there is nothing left. And the "Tribe" votes and elects leaders who fight anything that resembles enlightenment.

    So this fight will be a long one. Fight for us Mr. Panton. Fight for what you know is right.

    • Anonymous says:

      Having thought about and discussed this issue extensively, I really believe that the majority of people in Cayman – Caymanians, residents and expats – support conservation. 

      Its time for this small 'Tribe' to stop dictating to the politicians and for politicians to make the decisions which are right for the Island and all its people. 

      • Anonymous says:

        This not so small tribe can only survive by dictating to its leaders.  It will never stop on its own.

    • Anonymous says:

      While I totally appreciate most of this comment, I do not appreciate the comment  " I gine get mine". 

      Who is eating conch fritters and slurping down Caribbean lobster bisque in 4 and 5 star restaurants during the closedseason?  I don't believe its the poor Caymanian who would say "gine" so clearly there must be more wealthy and so called educated persons guilty of the same crime.

      If the poachers are not taking it from local waters and selling them to the restaurants, then the fishermen are taking it from the waters of other countries during our closed season which has the same effect in the end. Conch and lobster is being taken during the season when they should be left alone here or in Honduras or …  In reality there should be a ban on the importation of these products during our closed season as well, in addition to the existing  ban on taking them from local waters. 

      If the fishermen and restaurants are stock piling them during the open season that is just as bad as it means overfishing during open season.

      If there is a conch and lobster farm where all the conch and lobster is being purchased from, them someone tell me so I can order some from there. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Quite a long story to just say its the expats fault and not mine.  We get it.  Your still wrong.

        • Anonymous says:

          As the person who posted the comment you are replying to, you are incorrect.

          It is a problem for ALL of US living in and enjoying what Cayman has to offer.  Caymanian and Expat.  Both groups of people enjoy conch and lobster but most do not stop and ask the restaurants when and where they purchased their product before we eat it.  We should ALL be responsible and research our choices before we go out and eat everything in sight.

          Ask the restaurant the name of the farm or fisherman and then put that overpriced phone to some good use and see if the farm exists or if the fisherman has any charges in his past for poaching.  Do a little google/bing search and see if they run an honest business.


      • Anonymous says:

        Turks and caicos I believe. You can order from there

    • Anonymous says:

      The Tribe and its needs are Caymans biggest problem.  Prepare for the tribal rebuttals.  Its their fight for whats right for them.  And the reason only a non Caymanian can do anything about the enviroment.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Gov Kilpatrick and Mr Panton for offering some hope.

    And especially thank you to Ms. Ebanks-Petrie for your ongoing and untiring efforts to protect our Cayman environment by championing a 21st century environemt protection law.

  9. Anonymous says:

    How about these Environmental "EXPERTS!" and Government do something about the west end of the Bluff in Cayman Brac that they are allowing to be blown to hell and back, to build roads in Grand Cayman !!!   It is a disgrace and anyone on the Board that is allowing this should be ashamed as a matter of fact CNS can we find out excatly who gives the authority for them to blast as much as they do and export it? 

  10. Anonymous says:

    The environment gets protection while the citizenship is being raped economically by bandits and being assaulted in our homes. Noone has made and announced plan or at the very least an acknowledgment that we are in need of a crime reduction plan. And before it starts the RCIP ‘s lip service announcements do not count.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, 11:27, Governor Kilpatrick voiced her concern about crime as well. Somehow i think she will that thing called "feminine intuition" will come in very useful as she cuts through all the fakeness and BS that abounds. Good luck Governor!

  11. Anonymous says:

    This is extremely good news.   For too long we have sacrificed our environment in the name of development (a.k.a  money).  It is time we protect that which has brought us to where we are before it is too late.

    • Anonymous says:

      Then are you going to eat mangroves??…oh, I see, you are ready got yours stashed away….hmmmm.

      • Anonymous says:

        I will have to stash them away because if we do not protect our environment very soon there will be no mangroves left.  I guess as long as your pocket is full it matters not about what is around you.  That is a shelfish, narrow minded, and short sighted view.  I hope you have enough to last forever because what  are you going to do when tourism is gone?  When there are no fish on the reefs. 

  12. Anonymous says:

    Best thing I've read on CNS EVER! Finally something positive!

  13. Chris says:

    This could be a watershed moment for the Cayman Islands. .

    Many of the infrastructure projects proposed by the Cayman Infrastructure Development Fund spearheaded by Bo Miller and others focus on reducing environmental damage, such as the sewage treatment proposal.

    If Governor Kilpatrick supports environment protection and realises the Cayman Infrastructure Development Fund can make these projects a reality without government borrowing then we may have a real chance of making progress here. 

  14. Hoping for better days says:

    Waste Management Facility please Governor.

    Please push our representatives to look into this huge ENVIRONMENTAL issue that is plaguing Cayman; MOUNT TRASHMORE.

    I am all for preserving species and natural environments etc but the "dump" is our number 1 issue and it MUST be dealt with immediately.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Red herring. Two different ministers two different (not unrelated) issues. Cayman can deal with them both. Now.


      Saying 'wait to deal with the rest of the environment until we deal with the dump' effectively makes you a stooge for the anti-environmentalists who have delayed the NCL so far. Think about it

  15. About Time says:

    “The beauty of the islands was eclipsed only by the warmth of the welcome I received from those Caymanians and others I had the pleasure to meet,”

    Finally someone who has never laid eyes on these islands until recently sees the islands and the people as they are in reality.

    Quite a refreshing change from the desperate trolls who at every opportunity project their insecurities, biases and outright stupidity on anyone not in their camp with every opportunity that comes their way. Throw in their support for unscrupulous developers and "development", without exception they are too unethical, lazy and incompetent to make a buck for themselves, honest or otherwise, and only know how to ride the coattails of others.

    • Anonymous says:

      i see your point 9:43.There are many decent Caymanians. But just as we should not demonise Caymanians let us not make them into angelic all welcoming luvvy duvvies. There are plenty real unpleasants among them and the Governor will never encounter them in her day to day life so her comment is silly. She should live in my house for 6 months. I keep my yard neat (my neighbour's should be condemned by DEH). I do not play music that could be heard in Miami out of both my house and, remarkably, my car. I do not let my dogs run all around the neighbourhood killing chickens that rot in MY yard. When they are through with that, they go after the cats and terrify my young daughter to the extent she won't now go out in the yard. Ah, but Caymanians are friendly. Yes, the majority are. But my neighbour's advice is to get the f**k out of Cayman if I don't like it. I have lived here 30 years. Caymankind?

      • Anonymous says:

        Darling you seem to be suffering for a very long time 30 years . Why have you not simply moved to a better neighborhood? Rent or sell the house or put afence around the property? Done

        • Anonymous says:

          Thanks for the advice, Sweetheart, but it's not that simple. I would be glad to meet you somewhere sometime to go into it further………………….

  16. Cayman C says:

    Hurray.  This vision is long term and not short sighted.  This land is for our children and not continued immediate financial gain. We need to protect our land and seas.

    Planning was never well thought out.  (No bike paths or sidewalks, pavements) No enforcement of trucks to use by-passes so our tourists could enjoy the sea roads, no enforcement of cleaning up derelict buildings or enfocing slumlords to upkeep their buildings, no sustainable and managed development, just build, build, build = greed.

    I pray that these greedy developers realize that the buildinfg boom is over and turn to the stock market or overseas adventures to fuel their greed.  I pray this government will enforce humane living conditions and make slumlords clean up their lots and houese!!!

    The big business of building has been in the hands of a wealthy few for many years, (and we thank you for the business during the building boom) but it is time to stop thinking that construction should be an arm of our economy – "We cannot make more land"… and I plead with the building barons to enjoy their success and retire now to more community orientated pursuits.

    • Anonymous says:

      With no work here your children will simply leave and go overseas for work….catch 22.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Please could we make sure that this legislation will not just exist in the books but will be actively enforcred on a daily basis and will apply equally to all?

    Please ensure that developers can not file for a variance or whatever and that the law is the law, no matter which planning board is up and running!

    • I Know says:

      The DoE will need a major recruitment drive for more enforcement officers cause I can tell you right now saying these guys are running on a skeleton crew would be a stretch. The enforcement officers that are left on staff are few, over worked and under paid. To truly do their jobs the DoE will need a huge budget increase as these men will need more equipment and up-to-date training – both of which they have neither.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Lets get it protected while there is still something to protect.

  19. pmilburn says:

    So happy to hear this good news and kudos to Minister Wayne Panton for moving on this most urgent topic.A healthy environment produces a healthy tourism product.We CANNOT survive one without the other.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for the effort to get something moving on the long awaited topic.  Mr. Dart won't be ble to destroy our  hundred year old trees.

      • Diogenes says:

        If you are referring to the casuarina tree on the public beach:

        1. He isnt destroying it – they are going to move the paths so it can stay
        2. It isnt a hundred years old – the maximum life span of these trees is 40 to 50 years
        3. It isnt "ours" – its an invasive species, not indigenous to the islands.
        • Anonymous says:

          It has been here the required, time it has status so by law it is ours.  (It has been here much longer than the two tone sand they brought in.) Certainly it is not Dart's to chop down to put in a bench.  Look at the "new' public beach where is the shade?  Not much of it is there?  So Darts answer is to cut things down??

          I wonder how many days his "architects of this thing have spent with their family's frolicking o this beach.  Now they want to redesign it "Dart's way" as they want to do to the rest of the country. 

          This new government must fight this Dart takeover!