NCL not being rushed

| 04/12/2013

(CNS): As government’s environmental officials host the final round of public meetings regarding the National Conservation Law, the environment minister has dismissed allegations that the law has been rushed, not least because the country has been talking about it for more than a decade. Wayne Panton said that the “time is now for this legislation” and since the draft bill has been in the public domain and consulted on for years, every stakeholder has had more than enough time and plenty of opportunity to comment. Nevertheless, local lawyer Samuel Jackson, who specialises in assisting clients through the planning process, revealed that he has never submitted comments or concerns on the law until now.

Despite his expertise and experience and, as he admitted, being on the frontline where this law is concerned, Jackson appeared at the public meeting with a list of eleventh hour concerns and comments about the legislation.

Although his legal practice focuses on development application and even though he has had to deal directly with environmental questions surrounding some of his clients' projects and the Central Planning Authority, Jackson said he had never made comment before and he believed the law was being rushed through, despite the more than four years that the bill has been in public circulation.

Panton asked Jackson to submit his concerns in writing, regardless of their last minute appearance, to give the technical experts a chance to consider his points and to ensure that the questions and comments were already covered in the legislation. Panton pointed out that the law had been modified and adapted many times to take into consideration the many contributions that have come from the public.

When asked by CNS why he had never contributed formal comments to the debate before, given his business and the fact that the bill has been in the public domain for so long, Jackson said he did not believe the law would ever see the light of day.

“It has been talked about for so long and because there have always been issues I never believed it would be supported by Cabinet and brought to the table of the Legislative Assembly,” he said. Jackson is not alone in his sentiments, as the ongoing discussion regarding the law has made others believe it would never be passed.

However, Panton pointed out that the PPM and the C4C members of the current government had all campaigned before the election on the promise of bringing the law. Following his appointment as environment minister, Panton made it clear in June the bill would be brought to the LA before the year end. He pointed out that this draft had been through two further consultation periods and more amendments during the last administration, which had watered down the law to meet stakeholder concerns.

“It aims to conserve and protect the existing state of nature around us …There are many reasons to introduce this legislation, but none more important than what we will leave as a legacy for the children of the future,” Panton said, as he stood behind the legislation and the pressing need for its passage.

During the West Bay meeting, where around 20 members of the public were in attendance, Jackson was the only person to raise concerns and object to the law. One other member of the audience raised concerns about marine conservation but Panton explained that the NCL was not dealing with the enhancement of marine parks, which was a separate issue that would be dealt with next year.

Meanwhile, Creswell Powery, who joined several others who spoke in support of the legislation, pointed to the need to enforce the legislation once it was passed. 

“They used to call us ‘cockeyed-conservationists’ when we advocated for conservation laws 40 years ago. We’re not too late, but once the law is passed it also needs to be enforced,” he said.

DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie noted that going forward under the new legislation DoE enforcement officers would have powers arrest. Despite misinformation about them being armed and other misleading allegations, she said that at present when her officers see people poaching they have to stand by and watch as they wait for the police to arrive to put a stop to it because they have no powers of arrest.

The director also noted that there was nothing rushed about the legislation. In addition to the bill, all of the plans the DoE has about the regulations and how the law will work in practice, such as the process by which species will be designated for protection, have been on the DoE website for more than five years, she noted.

“There are no secrets in this legislation,” Ebanks-Petrie said. “This law has been reviewed and reviewed and reviewed, again and again,” she stated, adding that it was not legislation dreamed up by a few people at the DoE but a law that had been drafted based on massive stakeholder and public input.

From consultation with the planning department, the Water Authority, the roads authority, the private sector, environmental experts from far and wide and empirical research, the law was a major collaborative effort. Ebanks-Petrie said everything that had been raised during the many, many meetings over the years had been considered and there was no remaining genuine concern that is not addressed in the law.

The public meetings continue tonight when the minister and the DoE team will be in North Side.

See meeting schedule.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What I don't understand is how anyone – including the PPM Cabinet – can campaign for the passing of the NCL, while simultaneously supporting the Cruise Port, when the very EIA reads like a checklist of all the prohibited activity the NCL aims to correct?

     How can the Director of the Environment and CITA purport to feel so strongly about one and not the other?  Is it right for us to nurture a LAW that Cabinet is already planning to override at its convenience, and clauses that the Director of a soon to be endowed DOE regime can't even recall (conveniently or not)?  

    Will the NCL apply to the GT dock redevelopment? Does any one else see the contradictions by the government with that?

  2. 4 Cayman says:

    Is the NCL going to be like  the pension law? Where everyone and the grandmother who has cash or sits on boards make money?  I mean, the little man who wants to collect a lobster or a conch to feed his family will be imprisoned whilst the big developer clears hundreds of acres of mangrove for their 5 star hotels with the hopes of employing caymanians? Who's going to police the new law? 

    Our politicians continue to make mistakes at the expense of the people of this country and it needs to stop! We have so many issues that needs correcting yet nothing gets done. We have NBF scholarship fiasco, CIAA board and stealing issues, ITA employment  issues, government non payment contribution of pension and the list goes on. Anywhere else in the world people would be prosecuted and jailed for these behaviors yet we as a community accepts it and moves on until the next one and then next one and so on. People every screw up these people make  it's costing us and I have to dig deeper into my pockets each month.

    shame shame shame on the law makers who makes laws but only enforce them some of times.

    • Anon says:

      Yes.  And why do you think the NBF scholarship fiasco is being exposed, and all the rest of them?  Would not have happened on McKeeva's watch.   

  3. Anonymous says:

    CNS your caim that the Bill is not being rushed is not supported by the time line on this bill; approved by cabinet on November 12 without any public consultation on this draft –  gazetted on November 15 – public iput period closed on November 30 – "Road Show" December 4 – 9 – scheduled for debate and passage November 11. TOTAL TIME FROM FINAL DRAFT TO LAW 26 DAYS. The fact that other drafts have been in the public for discussion for about ten years indicates how bad the other two drafts were not that this draft which the Minister refers to as the Law is "good Law".  Mr. pantons behaviour and attitude in North Side last night calling Mr. Miller a liar and claiming he would not meet with him although he held offered the opportunity was embarassing. Mr. Miller consistantly pointed out by quoting sections of the bill – law to Mr. Panton that he and Gena were misinforming the people of North Side. We appreciate the way Mr. Miller handled Mr. Panton and continued to make sensible and resonable suggestions to change the Bill in spite of Mr. pantons vain attemptem to be-little and insult Mr.Miller.

    • Anonymous says:

      Correction. The bill tabling and public consultation occurred in 2010. Remember when they came to all of the districts? This is the outcome of that public consultation, just brought out under a different minister. Now, you may disagree with what they put in or took out or didn't do after the consultation but you can't disagree with the amount of conversation. I mean consultation.  – Unless of course you didn't bother to take part the first time because you hoped there was enough political influence to kill a conservation bill and are now trying to delay it for another several years of conversation. I mean consultation.

    • Anonymous says:

      Try TEN YEARS for a time line. 

      Three rounds of public consultation. 

      Three revisions. 

      This is not another round of public consultation – its a round of public meetings to explain to the public the 2013 Bill that is being brought to the LA next week – as promised by the PPM Government and Minister Panton throughout the election campaign and repeatedly and regularly since being elected to office. 

      Those who failed to give thier input previously – sorry its too late. 

      You have had 10 years to give your input. 

      Minister Panton – Bring on the National Conservation Law!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Will they close off everywhere & what about opening up some areas that was closed off for 20+ years? Brac Fisherman

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wayne Panton is going up against some experienced politicians in the form of McKeeva and Ezzard and they are skilled in making voters scared.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, best not to rush things. Let’s wait another 50 years or so, just to be safe.

  7. Weapons Grade Bollocks says:

    Note to the Premier and the PPM and C4C Members.

    The NCL is not a block to development, but it does, at least, provide the beginnings of a framework for the future that should assist in raising the standards of development and achieve a corresponding degree of long term sustainability.

    You have the numbers, so please just pass the NCL.

    History will judge you well and your legacy will forever be linked with saving these Cayman Islands for future generations.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn't it be appropriate for commentators with strong personal interests in environmental/development business to state those interests when making their views known – lest they influence others unduly?


  9. Anonymous says:

    If the law is going to affect Cayman Brac when and where will theCayman Brac Public   Meeting take place???   If such a meeting is planned the publc should be well notified about it!

    It seems that lawmakers sometmes  tend to be like the fellow who said he knew how to spell banana but  didn't' know when to stop.

    Any law concerning conservation should not only provide for future genrations but shold preserve the rights of the present geration.

    Such a law should be done in a manner that displays moderation and shoud not give any authority absolute power.

    Unles our islands are abandoning democray, Citizens must have  the right to appeal without having to hire a lawyer to do so and   the law should certainly contain that provision.

    A Brac-er who believes that the rights of citizens should be proctected.

    CNS: A public meeting on Cayman Brac is planned for this Saturday afternoon. We'll publish details when we have them.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Has Sammy had is head in the sand.  If he has not had submitted his input that is his fault not governments.  This has not been a secret and if Mr. Jackson was really concerned he should have spoken up sooner.  XXXX He should have stood up earlier and not complain now because he choose not to.

    • Anonymous says:

      It's not a law yet.  If a line or two can be inserted to calm everyone down, then now is the time to do it.  Everyone gets a say, even Sammy.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am sorry but you don't understand.  The only thing that will calm down some landowners is not law at all.

    • Truthseeker says:

      At least three successive governments have purported to have supported this bill when in office. McKeeva voluntarily  signed the environmental charter with the UK back in 2001 obligating us to take this path. The present PPM government promised to pass this in their manifesto only a few months ago. That amounted to a referendum on the issue.

      Enough time wasted listening to the bluster of manipulators! 

      Just do it. 

    • Anonymous says:

      How do you know if he has or has not said anything previously?! And on top of that would it not be nice if ALL CAYMANIANS would gett off their behinds and stand up for what they believe in every once in a while? Why does Sammy have to fight every battle- some of which he has no interest in other than supporting Caymanians and people like you sit around and do absolutely nothing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you keep up with EVERY tabled bill?!? Do you?!? Honestly? Maybe he didn't because he was a little busy fighting for the future of Caymanian attorneys- what have you done lately to benefit Cayman?

    • Mud Slinger says:

      In some cases, it’s all about grandstanding for the benefit of your audience.