Conservation Bill critique

| 09/12/2013

Conservation is an important and emotive subject. It tends to be polarizing and can cause people to passionately disagree without being willing to acknowledge and accept the sensible aspects of the other's view. One of the Coalition for Cayman's 10 founding principles reads: A belief that the natural environment and resources of the Cayman Islands should be used responsibly ensuring that future generations inherit an environment that is clean and safe. 

We are therefore strong supporters of laws and regulations which protect Cayman's natural environment and resources for future generations.

Given the very limited space available in Cayman, we are also aware that this protection must be designed together with a national development and infrastructure plan so that we have a cohesive fit and balance for Caymanians to be able to own homes and have the opportunity to own a business as well as provide for the type of infrastructure that is needed to support a modern and expanding population. 

This was the general thrust of the paper we prepared entitled "Sustainable Development" and delivered to the new government shortly after they were elected.

The main concerns passed on to us about the draft Bill relate to a lack of the appropriate balance with the country's needs and the concentration of power in such a small group of unelected individuals. Here, briefly, are some of those specific concerns:

1. Policy should be made by our elected representatives and then implemented by the non-elected Government employees. The Bill allows policy on all matters related to the environment to be made by a council which includes Members of the Department of Environment, the National Trust and other political appointees without any reference to the Minister in charge of policy making on behalf of the elected Government.

2. Out of proportion penalties of CI$500,000 apply to any and all offenses, whether intentional or accidental, covering a broad range of habitats of 225 species – plus more "which may be threatened".

3. A new government bureaucracy will be created at significant unnecessary expense, while the increased costs and lost time created by the new requirements will discourage development, thereby further reducing revenue (both to government and the private sector) and employment during difficult economic times.

4. The Compulsory Acquisition Law is already on the books. This new Bill, working in tandem with that, would allow compulsory acquisition of private properties which might be deemed "protected" because they were adjacent to protected Crown property. Land is also a financial resource in Cayman as it is passed down from generation to generation providing collateral for our children’s education, our first home, our own business, etc. For Caymanian landowners to potentially lose the use of their property or the property itself, and without proper compensation, is unthinkable.

5. A comprehensive Conservation Bill should include provisions for Waste Management and Recycling.

We urge our Government to put the current Bill on hold and prepare a national development and infrastructure plan, which includes our conservation aims (what are we trying to protect) and the needs of a growing population (what areas are approved for future businesses, residential properties etc) including the related infrastructure requirements (location of future roads, airport, port, garbage disposal, sewerage treatment etc). The Bill can then be revised in light of these requirements.

This Bill may have been under discussion for 10 years, but it has been the wrong discussion. It should not have been about limiting development. It should be about permitting sustainable development whilst implementing green policies (recycling, reducing reliance on fossil fuels, taking emergency steps to stop the Dump leeching into the North Sound etc) that will make our Islands safe and clean in the future.

There is no resistance to a conservation law but there is real resistance to the drafts that have been put forward in isolation with serious inherent flaws and without any direction from the elected Government on its environmental and sustainable development policy. Based on all the feedback we have received from many concerned citizens, business owners, and residents, that appears to be the case once again.

Preparing a national development and infrastructure plan should not take long. We suspect much of this work has been done and is sitting on physical or electronic shelves within Government. There is no reason why a 12-month timeline would not be realistic for both the plan and a revised Bill to be brought to the LA. Our Government must first, and at the very least, agree on a Conservation and Sustainable Development Policy. To create a proper Bill you must have a policy in place that deals with 2 such important and intertwined issues.

The worst option in our view would be to try to ram through a Conservation Law (or any Law) which may result in unintended consequences that create more problems than solutions. This is one instance where getting it done right is more important than just getting it done.

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  1. Disappointed says:

    C4C you are a pathetic disappointment and this stance is exactly why you do not have the public's trust. I mean, this is your big smart move? I'm no longer listening. You are nothing but big business lobby masquerading as pro Caymanian organization. Pathetic!

  2. Ms. ButterNut says:

    My repeated comments from the earlier CNS post still stands, here’s my input; C 4 $ale Cayman. Collectively, they are all about the money, which none, to my knowledge help those that need it most. They all have solutions and ideas, but don’t bother to step up and contribute the money, donations etc. C4C members, I don’t support you nor do I shop at your establishments anymore. That’s how I fight back. Thanks Wayne, Gina and company, show them how true, genuine Caymanians can be successful, honest, empathetic, moralistic and upstanding without bending to the needs of the wealthy, so-called elites.

    • And AnotherTing says:

      Boy, do we have a serious problem, PPM was aided by C$C to win the elections, which was largely funded by the Merchant Class. The payback via the TLEPS now being diminished by C$C who the PPM has now slapped in the mouth by what seems a big rush on the Conservation bill without proper consultation with their advocate buddies. The C$C non cabinet members pissing off their Executive, and some of theirEXEC providing disclaimers, the Premier cautiously quiet, East End, Northside and West Bay riling up their constituents against the bill, and finally the vitriolic Cayman compass beating up on the Conservation  minister and declaring a prolonged political fight. National Trust and other private sector groups trying to save the day for CIG by casting their support with them.

      Whee Geez no wonder its hot lately, a lot of hot air blowing about de place and  national consensus still not achieved. Do we know what we are  doing to ourselves by not thinking things through, and allowing the frustration of years of this bill not bring passed  to cloud our long term vision for these Islands . MLA's and cabinet members this is a serious subject not to be taken lightly for there are pros and cons as to the language of the bill, as to the seemingly power structure it conveys and to the apparent danger of a potential for a land grab process. Beware of how you vote and if you are really confused with all of the ifs and buts that abound, then  VOTE YOUR  CONSCIENCE.

      And Another Ting

      • Anonymous says:

        "PPM was aided by C$C to win the elections". You lost me right there since that is pure nonsense.  C$C had a dirty tricks campaign against the PPM. In no sense did it help them win.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think the "thumb" fixers are out in force again, seems to happen all the time with the C4C who think we are stupid. 

    • Don't let 'em fool ya says:

      Of course they are. With help from their children, family and friends etc. This thumbs up system is easily gamed if you have the patience (reset modem to get a new IP, use different VPN’s/locations etc) and also help from others, who push the button, from different IP’s. Silly C4C supporters and members, you’re not fooling anyone but yourselves. They could change the name to Collaboration 4 Cayman, they’re good at that, when it comes to thumb pushing at least.

  4. Anonymous says:
    I was previously torn on whether C4C would have been a better option for our country than the PPM – however, that has now been clarified. 
    – Someone who split thier votes between PPM & C4C who will never vote for C4C again. Although I am very happy with Roy, Winston and Tara and hope the three of them will move away from C4C – who they need for nothing as far as I can tell. 
  5. Anonymous says:

    On top of the fact that the three C4C candidates who actually got elected have been supporting the Conservation Bill – I heard on Rooster this morning that someone else from the C4C executive committee called in to say that he also objected to C4Cs position on the Bill. So WHO exactly is it hiding behind C4C objecting to the Conservation Law?

  6. What the Duck says:

    Be careful what you wish for C4C.

    And thanks for the red herring.  "Preparing a national development and infrastructure plan should not take long."  Indeed.   The current 16 year old Development Plan 1997 (all 22 pages of it) helpfully reminds one that it took from May 1991 to June 1997 to produce it. Even then it is still heavily relies on the 1977 Plan.   I feel sure you are more than ready to dust off  Vision 2008,  the April 2002 Report on Proposed Amendments to the Development Plan – Environment and Coastal Zone Management, Go East, the Climate Change Issues for the Cayman Islands review etc etc. and get to work.


    • Anonymous says:

      Well said "What the Duck"! C4C does not seem to realise that the Conservation Bill is precisely about permitting sustainable development (as Minister Panton and Ms Gina keep pointing out, it allows the environment tobe considered alongside other issues when government agencies are makign their decisions!). What C4C is recommending is just another way of saying "let's not do anything to advance protection of our environment now, let's wait another 10-20 years while the same small but powerful land lobby that has derailed every single attempt to implement a proper Development Plan for the country, and are now trying to derail the Conservation Bill, continue to lay waste to what is left of the natural environment of Cayman." Shame on you C4C!

      • Anonymous says:

        Did you read the VP before you commented because if you did you missed a whole lot 

  7. Anonymous says:

    While the first paragraph makes the C4C sound reasonable, the fact that they flat out lie in point #1, then try to obfuscate matters with point #5 shows that maybe they are not the holier than thou political action group they claim to be.

    I supported C4C candidates in the last election (mostly because I like them and not really because of their association with C4C) but this viewpoint is really dissapointing to me. 

    Waste management seriously needs to be addressed in this country, but why the hell they want to tie that in to a Conservation Bill is beyond me. They either are trying to confuse matters or simply don't have enough sense to know that the two issues (while linked in a vague way) do not belong in the same Bill.  Either way, I now doubt their ability to lead this country.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Agree or disagree with C4C's viewpoint, one thing will be made clear:  if the 3 C4C elected officials vote FOR the NCL, that should make it clear to everyone that C4C is NOT a political party.

    Whoever heard of a politicial party which had 100% of its elected officials vote against it?

    • Anonymous says:

      Welll, you did have a political party where the majority of elected members removed the leader of their party as premier.

      If they are not a political party then how can they sign off simply as Coalition for Cayman? That suggests a unified or at least majority view.  

      • Anonymous says:

        Look up the definition of a PAC. A PAC is not a political party

        • Anonymous says:

          I know what a PAC is, and therefore I know that C$C is not one.  

          • Anonymous says:

            And while you guys are looking at the definition how they operate is completely different.


            They are a party.

  9. Anonymous says:

    C4C – This move is the last nail in your coffin. 

    You have sadly shown again how out of touch you are with the Caymanian people and what is best for this country. 

    Furthermore I know that the 3 of your C4C candidates who actually got elected all support the Conservation Law. 

    I hope they stick to thier promise to be independent and do what is right for Cayman and vote yes on the NCL. 

    Country First!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Anti-Pollution and Anti-Dredging language is in the Draft NCL Bill Page 12, Part 1, section 2 In this Law – "Adverse Effect" is defined as (extract):

    (a) alterations that may impair the capacity of the area to function as a habitat beneficial to wildlife;

    (b) development that may increase the potential for damage to the area from floods, hurricanes or storms;

    (c) alterations of salinity levels, nutrient balance, oxygen concentration orr temperature that may be harmful to wildlife or the ecological or aesthetic value of the area;

    (d) alterations of hydrology, water flow, circulation patterns, water levels or surface drainage that may be harmful to wildlife or the ecological or aesthetic value of an area or that may exacerbate erosion;

    (f) the discharge of pathogens, dissolved or suspended minerals or solids, waste materials or other substances at levels that may be harmful to wildlife or the ecological or aesthetic value of the area;

    (g) changes in littoral or sediment transport processes that may alter the supply of sediment available to those processes or that may otherwise exacerbate erosion;

    (h) alterations that may increase losses of the area from a rise in the sea level with respect to the surface of the land, whether caused by an actual sea level rise or land subsidence;

    (i) emissions of air pollutants at levels that may impair the air quality of the area;



  11. Anonymous says:

    This shows that C4C was a mouthpiece for the rich elite.  Numbered point 2 is scaremongering and nothing else, maximum penalties and the penalties handed out are very different things, and a high maximum preserves effective deterrents for serious and deliberate transgressors.  Of course the mandatory acquisition of land will be rare and will provide compensation, so yet more scaremongering.  This is immoral rabble rousing. 

  12. Anonymous says:

    Fair points and a worthy discussion to be had. Will the PPM have the courage to heed sound advice or will politics trump long term sustainable development policy?

  13. Anonymous says:

    People seem mistakenly focused on 'protected' areas, while the elephant in the room is 'critical habitat'

    Most reference to 'protected' area, says 'protected area or critical habitat', not 'critical habitat within a protected area'.  The latter wording would imply the crown land the Minister claims the law is supposed to govern.


    Under 6 (2) (c) The Director has the power fo determine areas of critical habitat, which can be any parcel of land in the Cayman Islands.  Once your land is declared critical habitat, it seems just about everything that refers to protected area also covers your land.  So in effect this is a back door to mandating arbitrary control over any parcel of land so deemed by the Director.

    Also, some parts of this law is laughable.

    Section 19 (b) allows the Council to 'prescribe the optimal population level for species'.  It will be interesting to see what are the optimal population for periwinkles and whelks on the ironshore.  Or for that matter, scorpions or the nocturnal snake, Typhlops Caymanensis, that lives mostly underground.

  14. Anonymous says:

    C4C Viewpoints and Compass Editorials now fall in the same category of "trash" reading.

  15. Mr. Green says:

    Thank you C4C for pointing out the need for a National Conservation Policy and highlighting what is missing in the NCL.

    How can the ppm bring this bill forward that does not include provisions to address the GT dump which is an ecological disaster? This bill must address the need for a comprehensive waste management policy which includes the immediate need for recycling which in its current form it does not. This is a chance for Cayman to finally get things right please do not waste it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Its a CONSERVATION law. Not an 'all-environment' law. But sure, go ahead, try to shoehorn more in to it. And then wonder why it takes another 10 years for the anti-enmvironment crowd to stop laughing at you. – And as for C$C's claim that '12 months is a realistic timeframe to create a national sustainable fevelopment policy that covers everything'. To call it naive is to insult the inteligence of babies and to call it a red herring does a disservice to the fishing industry of Denmark.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The key to this bill will be the regulations and the impact on development and investment for years to come. 

  17. Anonymous says:

    Finally a good article about the National Conservation Bill 


  18. Anonymous says:

    Thanks C4C

    Another fair and mature View Point asking sensible questions and trying to stimulate a discussion without the usual political and emotive rhetoric.