Conservation law going to LA

| 14/11/2013

(CNS): After more than ten years of debate and discussion, Cabinet has finally approved the National Conservation Bill for passage in the country’s parliament. It is now available for public review before it will be considered by members of the Legislative Assembly next month. The minister with responsibility for the environment, Wayne Panton, said he was looking forward to bringing this long-awaited piece of legislation for debate and he hoped the law would be enacted by the end of the year. Prior to taking up responsibility for the environment, on the campaign trail, Panton, a staunch advocate for conservation, had nicknamed the bill the ‘National Conversation Law’ because of the amount of talking and lack of action on it.

However, the minster had promised to take that necessary action as soon as possible in his recent debate on the budget in October.

“It is critical that we plan and implement infrastructure and physical development in ways that respect the natural environment and try to preserve the integrity of eco-systems that sustains and address the threats which are serious and growing. There is no more time to lose,” he said during the debate when he committed to bringing the law.

The bill is now available and people can still submit final comments and feedback before 29 November but this final draft will be more or less the shape of the legislation when it passes through the Legislative Assembly.

Although the independent members and the opposition may still vote against the law, having steered the bill through Cabinet, Panton can be assured of support from his front bench colleagues and, very likely, most of his back-bench government memberstoo. Panton said Thursday that he was extremely pleased that Cabinet approved the bill on Tuesday so that it can be tabled in the LA.

“While the Bill is not a panacea for all our environmental concerns, it represents an important,essential step in ensuring the long-term conservation of our fragile island ecosystems and native biodiversity,” he said, noting that the bill has been in draft form for over a decade. “Although the Bill is substantially the 2009 version prepared by the former PPM administration, it incorporates recent feedback received from the public, stakeholders, the immediate past government administration and independent members of the Legislative Assembly,” he added.

Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie has been issuing continuous warnings about the need to place the environment on an equal footing to socio-economic considerations when thinking about development and the need for lawful protection for the growing list of vulnerable endemic species. She said that, when enacted, the law would give much needed protection to Cayman’s irreplaceable native species and habitats.

“As drafted, the Bill requires that the environmental consequences of all national plans, policies and projects, and all development proposals, are taken into account before any decisions or actions are taken, or permissions granted,” she said.

The Bill is available on the DoE website. Hard copies can be obtained at the Department of Environment on North Sound Road, and the Legislative Assembly.

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  1. Sam Small says:

    There is alot of things in Cayman take for granted and the environment is one of those; it is free for everyone to use and has always been there and so it is assumed it will there forever in the same undeveloped way.

    Sadly this is not true for cheap development and greed does care about it apart from looking out at the beach and adding a few zeros to the resell cost. Hence the way of developing caribbean islands for the last 500 years. Do you really think a developer who does not put insulation into the attic of his apartments is going to care about adjacent land he did not even pay for if it going to cost something – if you do your a fool. If you look closely as many building sites you find builder's waste thrown into the surrounding bush because the builders are too lazy to dispose of it in a dumpster in a country with zero cost tipping fees.

    This country depends on Tourism for both governemnt revenue and thousands of jobs; that is based on unsploit environment – seven mile beach white sands – stingray sandbar – condos on the beach – hotels -diving – indirectly resturants, bars, nightclubs, tourist shops.

    As low cost airlines offer long range travel at cheaper prices the public can go places thry never dreamed of and so we the close range resorts have to work harder to attract clients and the environment is a key player so can we afford to do nothing and hope that a future development so not have a toxic leak and destoy the beachs or stingray city thus killing our second largerst revenue stream. I don't think so .. so let show the world we mean business and protect our environment and continue to work with it to keep our tourist business alive.

    And so our great grandchildren don't look back and think what fools not to do this early before the time that destored the central wetlands and the waste poured out killed the fish -stingrays and turnedthe north sound into a cess pool for a quick buck OR they can look back and thank us for doing the correct thing! – what do you want to be remembered by?

  2. Anonymous says:

    We are slowly making progress. Especially when we remember that some years back one of our ExCo Members, renowned for his "oratorical skills", proclaimed in a speech "I am all for the environment, but you can get too much of it".

  3. Cayman Mama says:

    Thank you Minister Panton for doing what no one else has had the fortitude to do.

    For the past ten years this Bill has been kicked around the political arena while our islands lost precious natural resources and were overrun by invasive species.

    To all my fellow Caymanians who have had to explain to their children why other countries have National Parks and we don’t, or why there are so many green iguanas everywhere, please, speak up and support this Law.

    Our environment is part of our culture, heritage and our national identity and if we don’t respect and preserve it how can we expect others to do so.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Stop commercial harvesting of local conch and lobsters! Require proof of import from anyone trading commercially in these two scarce resources. We have problems enough with our local stocks without greedy poachers destroying this amazing fishery.

  5. Justus T. Grumbleigh says:
    The National Conservation Law as currently framed, will create the second most powerful regulatory body in the Cayman Islands after the Cabinet- the National Conservation Council. It will be entrusted with the task of policing development activity and lot of the economic base expansion in the Cayman Islands.
    Forget about the finely drawn distinctions between Crown Land, Protection Areas, Conservation Areas and the oft-repeated mantra that the Law as proposed, will not inpinge upon any landowner’s right to use and enjoy his property as he sees fit and as permitted by the Central Planning Authority. Section 41 of the Law will empower the Council to override all other authorities’ (including the National Roads Authority) decision, permission or approval of any aspect of a development or other physical economic improvement on the sole basis of the Council’s opinion that such consent ‘would or be likely to have an adverse effect on the environment generally or upon any natural resource’ (both these terms being defined as to effectively include every t'ing and then some!)
    Section 41 will make it illegal for any subservient entity (NRA, CPA, DoEH? DoE? HSA? CIMA??) to approve any development or other economic improvement without the Council’s overriding approval. In addition, to ‘validate’ their expert opinion as to whether such proposed activity, the Council may require that a Environmental Impact Assessment be carried out at their sole direction but at the cost of the activity proposer. A ‘negative’ result as adjudicated by the Council could lead to the forced abandonment of the proposed activity or substantial additional costs to mitigate the negative consequences of the proposed activity- none of this is the ‘light touch’ regulation espoused by DoE and Cabinet, but may have significant depressive consequences on the value of local economic base expansion.
    Will the deliberations and actions of the National Conservation Council in conserving the natural diversity of the Cayman Islands warrant the potential for significant curtailment of the expansion of the islands’ economic base? You be the judge…
    • Anonymous says:

      That is not true. Here is what Section 41 (3) actually says.

      "Every entity shall, in accordance with any directives issued by the Council, consult with the Council and take in to account any views of the Council before taking any action including the grant of any permit or licence and 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 environemnt generally or on any natural resource." (Why won't DoE post it up on their website in a way we can copy and paste?)

      Yes, it sounds broad. until you look at what it actually requires. That views be 'taken in to account'. So all thats going to happen is what happens now. (See the more recent CNS article on the South Sound filling.) The CPA will receive the view of the Council, say thanks for your opinion, we have taken it in to account. And we dont' care. The applicant may go ahead and bulldoze the mangroves and fill int eh seagrass as far as he wants to go. And it will remain completely legal under the NCL.

      No, clearly I don't support this part fot he NCL. It will be inneffective. But what it will absolutely not do is what you claimit will.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is the VERY reason why this law should be ABANDONED.  THIS is NOT a watered down version of the bill.  Joey, Winston, all you new politicians need to STOP this.

    • Katrina Jurn says:

      Under the NCL 2013, the power to grant approval for developments still rests with the existing development approval structure – and the powers of the Central Planning Authority, the Development Control Board and Cabinet remain unchanged.  

      These decision making bodies are only required to take in to account the views of the National Conservation Council:

      41. (3) Every entity shall, in accordance with any directives issued by the Council, consult with the Council and take into account any views of the Council before taking any action including the grant of any permit or licence and 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. 


      • Anonymous says:

        This is the provision that is worrying;

        Section 41
        (4) Every entity in accordance with any directives issued by the Council and regulations made under this Law shall apply for and obtain the approval of the Council before taking any action including the grant of any permit or licence and the making of any decision or the giving of any undertaking or approval that would or would be likely to have an adverse effect, whether directly or indirectly, on a protected area or on the critical habitat of a protected species.
        (5) In the case of a proposed action to which subsection (4) applies, the Council may, having regard to all the material considerations in this Law and regulations made under this Law-
        (a) agree to the proposed action subject to such conditions as it considers reasonable, in which case the originating authority shall ensure that the proposed action is made subject to such conditions; or
        (b) if the Council considers that the adverse impact of the proposed action cannot be satisfactorily mitigated by conditions, the Council shall so direct the originating authority and that authority shall refuse to agree to or refuse to proceed with the proposed action.


        That means it leaves appointed boards with NO POWER.  There is no definition for "indirectly" and it can be construed quite widely – given the DoE's past actions.

        • Anonymous says:

          "given the DoE's past actions." 

          First: the DoE currently has no law that gives them the "teeth" to take any meaningful action.

          Second:  The Council and the DOE will be two different bodies.  They will not be one and the same.

        • Anonymous says:

          I'm sorry, how much damage do you want to do to the protected area (national park) again?

        • Anonymous says:

          What past actions? Examples please. (So we'll know if you're telling the trueth or blowing smoke.)

  6. t bone says:

    I believe conservation and environmental laws are to protect us as well as nature, which is always connected to us. But I think there are some high class folks that will use theconservation law or environmental laws as a pretext to stop people from fishing, certain development, et cetera… Then what???  You have a law in place that is being used to stall more good from happening. What do you then say about that Cayman?

  7. George Towner to dah bone says:

    This is great news and thank you Minister Wayne Panton for pushing the conservation bill forward. If only the previous governments had implimented this law between 2003 and 2012, I believe we would have been in a better position than we are now, but you all know, there we're no political will. Now Minister Panton, along with your fellow PPM members, please move swiftly and get this law through the house, so that it can become law, thank you!. Some people on here think that the conservation law is a bad thing, but it's not. Most countries has some sorts of a conservation law in place to help to protect their natural resources and their eco-system from being depleted. Believe it or not, we here in Grand Cayman still have a little to preserve in our eco-system, but if we don't get this law into effect, the little that we have will turn into nothing at all. Imagine if this law was past in 2003, what would have happen? We wouldn't have had the Ritz and Dart dugging up acres and acres of mangroves in the North Sound, destroying our natural buffer, all for the mighty dollar. Now we have the Emerald Sound or whatever it's called in South Sound, that is planning on dugging up the little mangroves that we got left after Ivan and want to cut an canal inland, making George Town more susceptical to severe flooding from storm surge, if we have another Ivan passes the south of us. Lord help us if they go through with their plans. Tourist doesn't come here to see an concrete jungle (Seven Mile Beach is a good example) but come here for the natural resources and our eco-system. Continuing to destroy our resources and lose tourists who come here to spend their money to help build our economy, is more expensive than us having a law that would help to control developers, from destroying our little resources that we have left, in the future. I would like to thank my friends on Cayman Brac for trying to preserve your Island through sustainable developement and not to make it get out of control like us, in Grand Cayman. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Have you read the law?  It will give the Council the powers to stop any and everything on the island.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I hope this law impacts cuc so that they replace those ancient inefficient generators which kill our pocket book.  I just replaced the 5 year old A/C unit in my home to a 25 seer unit and my CUC bill dropped by 40 percent.  That was only 5 years old.  How old are those cuc generators? Surely they can't be environmentally friendly and compliant to the new law?

    • Anonymous says:

      And where is the money coming from to pay for the repalcements?  Magicnumberland, the home fo the new government surplus?

  9. Anonymous says:

    So what is govt going to do to fix sewer and the dump.  Surely those two environmental catastrophes would be an infringement of the new law?! Is govt subject to this law or is it like the term limit on expats which only applies to private sector?

  10. Anonymous says:

    If you are never going to qualify for PR the local environment suddenly becomes irrelevant.

  11. Fred Burton says:

    Thank you Wayne, and all of the Cabinet  – it is indeed high time to get this law passed.

    And to the nay sayers, please do read the Bill before going off about stifling development, driving away investors, stealing land and all that nonsense – that's NOT what this law is for and that's not what it will do. Seventy two pages is a lot of reading, I know, but if you just go by hearsay you risk getting the wrong idea altogether.

    To others like me who support this Law wholeheartedly, write the Minister and tell him so. I'm going to. Usually the naysayers make more noise that the yea sayers, even though there may be far more that support it. Let Wayne hear the "yes" messages too.

    Fred Burton

  12. Michel says:

    I am for Conserving the Environment for our future generations. I congratulate Minister Panton and those involved in making certain it happens. We have to start somewhere and that’s a good beginning. Jobs will be taken away ? You definatly don’t get it do you ? God Bless, Michel Lemay

  13. Anonymous says:

    Climate change is here folks, with horrible proof in the Philippines. Not only do I support this bill, but advocate a Climate Change Bill.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, I am glad this law will be in place, it will help with Climate Change.

      • Anonymous says:

        No, it won't.    It will help us to legislate the ability to preserve and protect endangered species on the islands.    It doesn't help "climate change" to throw money at it.   It doesn't help "climate change" to talk about it in proposed legislation.   

    • Anonymous says:

      While one can argue there is a ethical consideration that binds us all to "do our part" to mitigate climate change. However, let us not fool ourselves, that we, a little spec on the map can pass legislation that will be the equalizer in solving this problem. If the big nations of the globe do not take the bold step in solving this issue, we will be up to our necks in water!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        13.18 This isn't about climate change, it's about biodiversity, and the sort of Island we want to live in and our children to inherit.

    • Anonymous says:

      Can we attach a "Duppy-Ghost Bill" to your proposed Climate Change Bill?

      The recent Philippines typhoon is as much "horrible proof" of climate change as was our 1932 hurricane.

      Never should we ever entertain the notion of a "climate change" bill in the Cayman Islands.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you David Koch! The so-called "fact" that the world sea level is up 8" since the '32 storm is just some made-up rubbish by a bunch of conspiratorial scientists. The so-called "fact" that the Tacloban water surge took more lives than the winds is another lie. Lets join the chorus claiming that global warming is a joke. CO2 emissions are actually good for you!  I can't wait until we discover the ulterior motive for that entire community of lying scientists.

        • Anonymous says:

          Sea levels have been rising and receding for millenia.

          Environmentalism is the new religion of the world. It (AGW) requires faith to believe and follow as the "facts" are not what the "lying scientists" claim them to be.

          You are a believer, I am a non-believer – let's leave it at that, ok?

          Similar to the Jehovah Witnesses in my neighborhood – kindly respect my beliefs and do not impose your belief system into my life.

          After all, isn't faith a very personal concept?

  14. brit says:

    About time.  Save some part of Cayman instead of the rich getting richer by selling everything for the almighty dollar.

  15. anonymous says:

    I am all for Environmental protection BUT… me the actually REGULATIONS!!  dont pass a law then write the wicked regulations afterwards!

    • Anonymous says:

      Click on the DOE link in the story.    Click on "Laws and Regulations".   Click on "Conservation Law".    Scroll past the 'begets' and go directly to the meat.   Read.    Give yourself a cookie.  

  16. Anonymous says:

    I really hope people read this bill before blindly supporting it. Conservation is needed but this bill is a disaster waiting to happen. Not to mention the increased cost to caymanians trying to own a piece of Cayman.

    • SSM345 says:

      I thought "Born and Bred", "5th Generation", "My Grandparents parents parents" Caymanians all have land already that is passed down? Or did they sell it all to the almighty foreigner who is here to destroy and take all jobs?

      How much more reading does one need? How long has this thing been floating around? Have you provided input on it?

      And here's a news flash, land goes up in value, its always going to cost more.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please explainhow this Bill will increase the cost to caymanians trying to own a piece of Cayman?


      If you dont, then we dont need to listen to you.

    • Anonymous says:

      08.30 So have you read all 72 pages? And you came to the conclusion that it's a disaster waiting to happen? The bill  has been so watered down since its original drafting, that it's hard see what could possibly be wrong with trying to catch up a little bit with the rest of the World on conservation, from a position which is about  50 years behind the times. By placing the right  value on our special and biologically important areas, we can only add value to the land you own now, or perhaps wish to buy, for development. That's just good business in my opinion. 

  17. Anonymous says:

    Fantastic news!

    This is long over due!


  18. Anonymous says:

    Great job, now please pass it into law.  Without it there will be NO Cayman for future generations.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Here comes the bill that will kill all of those projects that was to bring us work…the complete end of the PPM recovery concept. The airports, the cruise piers etc all will run into road blocks lasting years from this law…God help us!

    • SSM345 says:

      18:41, law can be amended, do you live in Cayman?

    • Anonymous says:

      Please explain how this will create road blocks lasting years for projects?


      Also, why do you see it as a bad thing to consider the environmental aspects of any project before undertaking such project?


      Do you think the majority of tourists and new residents come to Cayman for the concrete or asphalt?? There's plenty of that where they come from

  20. Anonymous says:

    Good idea.  Now perhaps Mr Panton can set an example and conserve fuel himself by driving a more fuel efficient vehicle!

    • A. V. A. Lanche says:

      Why don't you tell us the extent of your own carbon footprint? Pretty sure you are posting from a glass house powered by the local utlility.

      • Anonymous says:

        Firstly 'pretty sure' is no basis for a cogent argument.  Secondly,  I am not a public servant claiming to be a proponent of conservation while driving a vehicle that consumes large gas quantities.

        • Anonymous says:

          Dear Anonymous – Mea culpa – you have me on that. I do not drive the most fuel efficient vehicle around but with respect, lets not confuse issues here. The National Conservation Bill is not about conservation of a commodity, it is about consideration of the protection, conservation and management of our natural environment – terrestrial, wetlands and marine and our native flora and fauna. We cant make or distill anymore of those once they are gone.  I am sure that you will forgive me for my preference for trucks while I ask you on behalf of the children of the Cayman Islands, now and tomorrow to join in supporting the Bill so that those children will inherit not simply what is left of the Cayman Islands but what is the best of the Cayman Islands. I assure you they will thank us.    Regards, Wayne Panton

          • Anonymous says:

            What you describe is 'selective conservation'.  At least have the decency to describe yourself this way.  Conservation is about conserving all our natural resources worldwide.  Cayman lacks even the basics of a half decent recycling programme .  I am yet to be convinced that any of our politicians are acting in the best interests ofthe country because I see no evidence of it.  All i can see is evidence of 'It is my turn now' in reference to power while seemingly purporting to have the populace believe something different.  I would like to see real change where corruption is wiped out, less cronyism, familysm etc.  I would like to see public servants accountable, not be allowed to hire their family in nice secure positions, not being able to abuse gasboy etc and you know what I am talking about. Then lets talk about conservation!  Lets start with conserving decency in public life, ad iudicium