Archive for December 11th, 2013

DoT to help government fill up admin building

DoT to help government fill up admin building

| 11/12/2013 | 21 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism (DoT) will be relocating to the new Government Administration Building (GAB) in George Town on Monday, helping with the PPM administration’s goal of boosting the occupancy rate of the modern energy-saving building. During a Public Accounts Committee meeting in September government officials revealed that the building was only 65% occupied as a result of a combination of factors. The downsizing of government, the reluctance of some public authorities to move and the costs of adapting space for others were all cited as reasons for government entities not moving into the GAB.

Deputy Governor Franz Manderson stated at that time that the DoT was making plans to move, which would help improve theoccupancy at the building commissioned and built to save the government rent money and, through high energy efficiency, cut down on its utility bills.

DoT officials confirmed its move to join other government entities in the environmentally friendly building this week. It said all services offered by the DoT would continue at the new location, including cashier services, which will now join other revenue collections for government on the first floor.

To facilitate final closure of the present location at Regatta Office Park on West Bay Road, the DoT offices will be closed to the public on the 12 and 13 December. Regular services will resume at 1:00pm on the 16 December in the GAB.

The department apologizes for any inconvenience the office closures may cause but looks forward to working with its customers at the new location.

The contact details for the department are as follows:

To reach by phone, callers should continue to use 345-949-0623

The new address is:

Cayman Islands Department of Tourism
Government Administration Building
133 Elgin Avenue

P.O. Box 67
Grand Cayman KY1-1102

The hours for the DoT cashiers will remain the same: 8:30am – 3:00pm as of Tuesday, 17 December.

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Sir John A Cumber outlast Cayman Prep in U9 Cup

Sir John A Cumber outlast Cayman Prep in U9 Cup

| 11/12/2013 | 0 Comments

(CUC-PFL): The second round of the 2013/2014 CUC Primary Football League (PFL) Playoffs concluded this past Saturday at the Annex Field with 12 games in the Champions and Consolation Cups. In the Under 9 Champions Cup, Sir John A. Cumber Primary secured a second win in two weeks as they held on to defeat Cayman Prep 3-2 thanks to a hat trick from Rashaad Powery, which included two penalties. Pierce Terry’s two goals for Cayman Prep were not enough as the Group A champions tasted defeat for the first time this year and slipped to second in the Playoff standings.

In other Under 9 Champions Cup games, Cayman International School bounced back from a 0-1 loss to Cayman Prep in the first round last week to defeat South Sound Schools 3-0 with two goals from team captain Francisco Magno and a single strike from Jonathan Rado. Other scores included Savannah Primary 7 vs. Prospect Primary 0 and St. Ignatius Prep 0 vs. NorthEast Schools 0.

In the Under 9 Consolation Cup, Red Bay Primary defeated George Town Primary 4-0 and a Jacobi Tugman led Bodden Town Primary were 3-1 victors over Truth For Youth. In the Under 11 Champions Cup, the ‘game of the day’ turned out to be Sir John A. Cumber Primary against South Sound Schools. With both schools coming off draws in the first round each were eager to get the three points.

The game was an exciting affair with the majority of play taking place in midfield. South Sound Schools’ Aidan Hew and his band were trying their best to find gaps in Sir John A. Cumber’s defence marshalled by Romeo Thomas. Likewise, Daniel Wallace and his group of midfielders from Sir John A. Cumber were trying to do the same against a Kiran Conolly-Basdeo led rear guard from South Sound Schools.

With the score tied at 0-0 going into half time both schools were confident that a win was in reach. In the 39th minute, Sir John A. Cumber made the breakthrough as a Daniel Wallace corner was not properly dealt with by the South Sound Schools defence and in a brave attempt to clear the ball off the line, Ryan Godwin inadvertently put the ball through his own net giving goalkeeper Brandon Jackson no chance.

South Sound Schools pressed forward for the equaliser but found Omar Bodden in the Sir John A.Cumber unbeatable. The young shot stopper easily dealt with the long range shots and was happy to see the South Sound Schools forwards unable to connect ona few dangerous crosses that flew across his penalty area.

Although on the losing end, South Sound Schools’ Kiran Conolly-Basdeo was a ‘rock’ in defence and clearly the “man of the match” for his tireless running and excellent tackling. In other games in the Under 11 Champions Cup, George Town’s Isaac Ebanks scored twice for George Town Primary in the 21st and 38th minutes and NorthEast’s Jaquan Miller grabbed two in the 33rd and 50th minutes in a thrilling 3-3 draw. Itana Villalobos scored in the 29th minute for NorthEast Schools and Jordan Sommerville scored in the 24th minute for George Town Primary to round off the scoring.

St. Ignatius Prep salvaged a draw with Prospect Primary thanks to goals from Corey Smith in the 11th minute and Nathan Trickett in the 48th minute. Prospect’s Andrew Suberan opened the scoring in the 5th minute and a ‘sweet’ volley from Joshua Cox in the 37th minute had Prospect heading for their first victory in the Playoffs until the Nathan Trickett leveller settled this exciting encounter. Undefeated Cayman Prep kept their record intact after defeating Savannah Primary 3-1.

In the Under 11 Consolation Cup, Truth For Youth defeated Bodden Town Primary 5-2 and Cayman International School outlasted Triple C 3-1. Special thanks to Chastine Rankine, Dwayne Ebanks and Shakur Welcome for handling the officiating duties.

The third round of the 2013/2014 CUC PFL Playoffs continues this Saturday, December 14 at the Annex Field with a further 12 games scheduled in the Consolation and Champions Cup in both age groups. This will be the final set of Playoff games before the Christmas Break. Fans of ‘the powerful game’ are invited to the Annex Field for another extremely exciting day of youth football action.


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Future development will depend on market reaction

Future development will depend on market reaction

| 11/12/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): How the real estate and property development markets react and adapt to the new conservation law when it is implemented will dictate the future of development in the Cayman Islands, not the bill itself, local lawyers have said. In a statement released on Wednesday morning, as legislators began debating the bill in the parliament, the Cayman Bar Association  (CBA) issued a report on the law which pointed out the need for the legislation as a result of government’s legal obligations under the constitution. In their review of the law, the CBA said it did not threaten property rights and the council was not all powerful. Like any other legislation, it is not perfect, they said, but the legislative process of refinement and revision will apply equally in the case of this bill, as any other. Read more on CNS Business

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Response to C4C

Response to C4C

| 11/12/2013 | 9 Comments

We wholeheartedly agree with the C4C suggestion that anational sustainable development and infrastructure plan should be developed. This is essential along with other ‘green’ policies aimed at addressing waste management, the Dump, renewable energy, climate change preparedness and the many other environmental issues the Islands currently face. In fact, Sustainable Cayman has been established as a long-term advocacy group for these very issues. 

However, while these issues are related to the National Conservation Bill, they belong in new and separate legislation and policies. To be clear: "Conservation" is the protection of animals, plants, and natural resources. Waste management and recycling are environmental issues, however they should not be included in a Conservation law.  The National Conservation Bill is the beginning of an improved environmental legislative framework, not an all-encompassing fix for every issue.

The mechanisms which the law introduces are flexible, foundational and should be compatible with other sustainable development policies that will hopefully be developed in the future. The National Conservation Bill is aimed at protecting Cayman’s unique biodiversity. It is also an important tool to make continued physical development in the Cayman Islands more sustainable. But it is only the first step.

Based on current public discussions, there is no reason to delay the passage of the Bill. All concerns that we, at Sustainable Cayman, have heard about the Bill over the last month stem from misinformation and misunderstanding about the actual content of the Law and can, and indeed have been, addressed and satisfied repeatedly by Government officials.  In cases where there is some ambiguity, the Government has pledged to amend wording to accommodate those concerns.

There are few pieces of legislation where the drafting process has been so transparent and collaborative. The National Conservation Bill has been developed over the last 10 years with numerous rounds of intensive public consultation throughout this period of time. Residents of all districts, developers, landowners, quarry operators, related government departments, the tourism sector and industry and professional groups have all had the opportunity to give input on the Bill on numerous occasions. 

The Government has amended the Bill three times to address valid concerns raised throughout these consultation processes.  Consequently, the National Conservation Bill 2013 is a carefully designed piece of legislation which is uniquely tailored to the particular intricacies of Cayman’s economy and culture, balancing conservation and need for continued physical development of the islands.  

As one signature to our Statement of Support for the NCB wrote: No other law has been more reviewed and fine tuned than this one. It's time to get on with it now!

Addressing the 5 points raised in C4C’s letter:

1. We would like to clarify that there IS a representative of the Minister for the Environment in the form of the Chief Officer of the Ministry of the Environment on the Council. This representative is joined by other relevant civil servants (Planning, Environment, Agriculture), along with 7 individuals nominated by Cabinet and one representative of the National Trust.

The Council is largely an advisory body to Cabinet. All significant actions under the NCL require both public consultation and Cabinet approval. For example, every recommendation for a Protected Area designation must go out for public consultation and then gain Cabinet approval (only Crown land can be considered for Protected Area designation and not private land). The same process must be followed for every species management plan.  Further, it is Cabinet that is charged with the power to make Regulations under the Law.

In terms of the Councils participation in the planning approval process, their role is only advisory (their input must be taken in toconsideration). The only exception being the rare planning decisions that will impact Crown owned Protected Areas or areas that have been designated Critical Habitats, where the Council has the power to direct the originating agency to approve or refuse.

2. The appropriate fine for a particular offence under the NCL will be determined by the Courts and will depend on the severity of the crime. To take an example from the current Marine Conservation Law which has the same maximum penalty of $500,000, a conch poacher who took 40 conchs and 10 lobsters out of season was recently fined $2,400. On the other hand, a visiting mega yacht that deliberately flouted local requirements and destroyed a large section of reef in the West Bay Marine Park was charged CI$150k.

3. a) Regarding the perception of increased bureaucracy, decision-making authority over planning matters will remain as it currently is with the Central Planning Authority, Development and Control Board in the Sister Islands and with Cabinet for Coastal Works applications. For planning applications that will negatively impact the natural environment, the Council will simply have an advisory role. Their recommendations to these decision-making bodies must be taken in to consideration but is not binding (except for Protected Areas and Critical Habitats). 

Many of the requirements of the NCL already take place under a ‘gentleman’s’ agreement’ between respective Government agencies and the Department of Environment. The NCL simply makes that process legally binding and creates a level playing field for all those engaging in the Planning Approval process.  The NCL will not significantly impact Government’s budget. An Environmental Protection Fund was established years ago for conservation purposes. The Fund currently generates around CI$5 million per year.

3. b) With regards to discouraging development, we would like to quote CASE (The Society of Cayman Architects, Surveyors and Engineers): The NCL “will eliminate the current practice of addressing the environmental concerns of a proposed major development on an ad-hoc basis without clear requirements or guidelines, which is a welcome relief to investors who will now know upfront what the requirements are for an environmental impact assessment. Many international investors are accustomed to considering environmental aspects of a major development prior to the planning application process.”

Far from being a deterrent to potential investors, the level playing field created by the NCL will appeal to international developers and investors who have a long-term interest in the Cayman Islands.

For smaller developments, such as a dock or single family home, the NCL will have little to no impact.

4. This point, which states that properties adjacent to protected areas are at risk of compulsory acquisition, seems to miss the point that the concept of buffer zones has been completely removed in the 2013 version of the Bill. Consequently, there is nothing in the current bill which will limit activity on private land surrounding protected areas. Further, there is NO compulsory land acquisition in the National Conservation Bill.

In the case of environmentally important land, those who wish to retain ownership of their land or develop it, still have that option. However, the option to sell or lease private environmentally significant land to the Government for conservation purposes introduced by the Bill, opens new economic opportunities for people who do wish to sell or lease their land. There is nothing in the National Conservation Bill which will force a landowner to sell their land to the Government. Participation by private landowners is encouraged, but purely voluntary.

5. We have already addressed this point above. Waste management and recycling are critical environmental issues, however they should not be included in a "Conservation" law.

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Dart brings in ‘bigwig’

Dart brings in ‘bigwig’

| 11/12/2013 | 89 Comments

(CNS): Having asked to be joined in the defence of the legal action taken by four ladies regarding the closure of the West Bay Road to facilitate the development of a beachfront resort by Dart Realty Cayman Limited, the developer appeared to spare no expense in the fight this week when they instructed the former attorney general of England and Wales.  Peter Henry Goldsmith, Baron Goldsmith, PC, QC, who now works for the New York-based firm Debevoise & Plimptonand is reputed to earn over one million pounds per year, advocated for Dart on Tuesday before Justice Alex Henderson. He argued that the women did not have a case as the rights they said they had lost were not private but public rights.

Baron Goldsmith suggested that the right of way people had to the road, and in turn beach access, were general broad public rights that everyone shared and therefore bringing the action under the Bill of Rights was wrong because that was meant to deal with infringements of private rights. He argued that the closure was lawful and therefore, as part of the gazetted closure, all public rights of way ceased.

Goldsmith suggested that if there were any questions at all about the closure, the present suit itself was the wrong kind of action because the women should have applied for judicial review within three months of the signing of the NRA agreement in December 2011 in accordance with the court rules. Acknowledging changes in the constitution which appear to increase that timeframe to twelve months, he said that either way the outcome was that the women were out of time and their claims were “misconceived”.

The leading attorney said there were very good reasons in law for placing timelines on such cases, as illustrated by the massive financial investment and the work already undertaken by his client.

The Dart lawyer agreed with the government's QC, Richard Keen, who had also argued the same point that the plaintiffs were “adventitious” when they had adopted the date of the gazetting of the road as the point where the timelines should begin. He argued that government had notified the people of its intention to enter into an agreement with Dart, part of which included the road closure, as far back as June 2011.

Despite arguments that the details of this agreement were madebehind closed doors and that the full deal was not revealed until after the closure, Baron Goldsmith said the women were well aware of the intended road closure from the start and had been part of the public opposition to it and had gone on television voicing their objections.

Given the timeline’s importance to the case, he said, the suit was a “manifest abuse of process” as the women had attempted to circumvent a judicial review, which would have been the correct route. He said his clients had undertaken very expensive and substantial work on the basis of the agreement signed with the NRA and government in December 2011, and it was clear that any legal questions could not be allowed to meander for any length of time.

The closure, he argued, was perfectly lawful and was made by political leaders giving due consideration for all of the facts and socio-economic as well as environmental issues. He pointed to speeches delivered by the former premier, McKeeva Bush, in support of the Dart deal. He also referred to the efforts Dart is making to maintain pedestrian access to the beaches in the area and the provision of the public park.

Baron Goldsmith noted at the beginning of his submissions that only part of the road which is earmarked to be closed has been gazetted, noting that the developer was undertaking the closure in two parts and, when it happens, the closure of the remaining stretch will also be done under the same roads law.

However, questions remain about the closure of the remaining stretch of road, which for all intents and purposes is now a cul-de-sac and no longer provides through access. The Cayman government remains in negotiations with Dart about the NRA agreement as it seeks to extract value for money for the public purse after questions were raised about the deal by independent consultants.

The PPM administration has also publicly stated that it is pressing to change parts of the deal which it has found “unacceptable”, not least the 50% concession Dart was given on room tax in the deal for all of its tourist accommodation which it owns,acquires, builds or renovates in the next thirty years for up to ten years from that accommodation opening.

The case brought by Alice Mae Coe, Annie Multon, Ezmie Smith and Betty Ebanks on behalf of a wider activist group continues in Court 4 Wednesday at 10am when local attorney Anthony Akiwumi, instructed by Irwin Banks is expected to reply to the defence arguments.

Following an extensive agreement of certain facts, the lawyers will not be calling live witness and will leave the judge to decide the case based on the written submissions and evidence, as well as the arguments the lawyers made on their feet during the course of the trial this week.

See related storyClosure-was-fait-accompli

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International Human Rights Day 2013

International Human Rights Day 2013

| 11/12/2013 | 8 Comments

10 December is the anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations (UN) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR sets out a certain set of rights that are the basic and minimum set of human rights for all citizens. Setting aside a day to commemorate, educate, and reflect on the principles that form the UDHR means celebrating the rights we exercise every day in the Cayman Islands, and acknowledging that enjoying those rights carries with it the responsibility of promoting these rights for all people.

Rights and freedoms that many of us take for granted – such as the right to an education, the freedom to practice our chosen religion, or the freedom of expression – are not equally available to persons in other countries as they are in the Cayman Islands.

As the celebration today is truly international in scope, many individuals and communities across the globe will be commemorating 10 December, and pledging a commitment to observe and improve human rights wherever possible. This year the Human Rights Commission joins the UDHR in encouraging the Government, civil society, communities, families and individuals to share your voice and celebrate the freedom of expression!

Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of democratic rights and freedoms. In its very first session in 1946, before any human rights declarations or treaties had been adopted, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 59(I) stating “Freedom of information is a fundamental human right and … the touchstone of all the freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated.”

At an individual level, freedom of expression is a key to the development, dignity and fulfilment of every person.  At a national level, freedom of expression is a necessary instrument for effective, efficient, and democratic governance as well socio-economic progress. Through this fundamental freedom people have the opportunity to gain an understanding of their surroundings and the wider world by exchanging ideas and information freely with others.

Freedom of expression is essential to the protection of democracy by ensuring public participation in decision-making. Individuals cannot exercise their right to vote effectively or take part in public decision-making if they do not have free access to information and ideas as well as given the ability to express their views freely. Freedom of expression is thus not only important for individual dignity but also to participation, accountability and democracy.

On this day, the Human Rights Commission implores each person to reflect on the value of our freedom of expression as enshrined in the Bill of Rights, Freedoms, and Responsibilities and share your voice in the strive to promote, protect, and preserve human rights. 

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C4C members will support conservation law

C4C members will support conservation law

| 11/12/2013 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Despite the position taken by the advocacy group which endorsed them, all three of the Coalition for Cayman members have confirmed their backing for the National Conservation Law, which will be debated in the Legislative Assembly today, Wednesday 11 December. While Tara Rivers, the education and employment minister, was always bound by the collective responsibility and obligated to support the law once Cabinet gave it the nod, the two back-bench members, Roy McTaggart and Winston Connolly, are free to vote however they chose, but both men have said they will be voting 'yes'.

The group that endorsed these candidates on the campaign trail in pursuit of a government of non-party aligned members released a damning attack on the law this week, stating that it would limit development instead of facilitating it and asking for yet another year of consultation.

Following the advocacy group’s public opposition to the law that they are all supporting, CNS asked the C4C-backed MLAs how they felt about the position taken by the group.

Rivers said that as a firm believer in democracy she respected C4C’s democratic right to express their position on this or any other matter it deemed important. “Likewise, I’m confident that C4C will continue to respect my position as an independently elected representative and member of Cabinet,” she added ahead of the debate.

Roy McTaggart, who is not forced to support the law, also confirmed his backing and indicated that the advocacy group’s position would not influence him. Often seen as the political leader of the group, the chair of the Public Accounts Committee said he had no concerns about the position that C4C had taken.

“As an independent candidate, I campaigned in support of the Conservation Law and will be voting in favour of it when it is put to a vote in the LA,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Winston Connolly went further and distanced himself from the advocacy group, stating that he was not a member of it.

“For the record, I have never been a C4C member, nor have I sat on their executive or had anything to do with their decision making,” he said. “They have not had any bearing on my decision making at any time, nor have I had any say in what they do. I was and remain endorsed by them with no conditions other than to vote with my conscience and be honest in my deliberations and actions."

In light of the declared intention of the public advocacy group, which is to promote independent leadership – “free of political ties" – that can be trusted to always do what’s best for the people, CNS has asked the group if it intends to continue backing the three members it endorsed, given that they are at odds over this critical piece of legislation, but C4C has not yet responded to questions.

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New regulator for auditors appointed

New regulator for auditors appointed

| 11/12/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): The body responsible for overseeing inspections of Cayman-based firms that audit market-traded companies has appointed its first managing director. Donald Cockburn will manage the daily activities of the Auditors Oversight Authority (AOA) and facilitate discussions with his foreign counterparts in order to have Cayman-based auditors assessed and confirmed as having equivalent quality assurance systems to those of other countries. This oversight body lines up with the requirements under the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD) that came into effect in July, and gaining recognition from EU member states will be very important to the offshore sector. Read more on CNS Business

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Reparations could fund new regional development

Reparations could fund new regional development

| 11/12/2013 | 76 Comments

(CNS): Caribbean leaders have identified a list of socio-economic problems in the region which they say are a  direct result of the legacy of slavery, and reparations from the European nations enriched by the salve trade could help shape a new development agenda. A CARICOM commission established to deal with the issue of reparations met in Jamaica Tuesday to advance discussions and formulate a plan to claim financial compensation from the former slave owning states. Chair Professor Sir Hilary Beckles said Caribbean societies were built on the transatlantic slave trade and are uniquely placed to advance the "cause of truth, justice, and reconciliation within the context of reparatory justice" to make amends for the continuing legacy of that crime.

The Commission has called upon the former slave-owning nations of Europe, mainly Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, to engage Caribbean governments in reparatory dialogue to address the living legacies of the slave trade. Encouraging CARICOM heads of government to push for talks with the former slave-owning countries enriched by the crime, the commission said reparations could help eradicate the legacy of slavery that still subverts the development efforts in the Caribbean.

The money would be earmarked for six primary socio-economic challenges which Beckles said are a direct result of slavery. From cultural deprivation and psychological trauma to scientific and technological backwardness, the Caribbean is still feeling the impact of the salve trade, Beckles added. In a statement at a press conference held at the UWI, he said that at the end of the colonial period the British left the African descended population, and survivors of the native genocide, in a state of general illiteracy.

“Some 70 percent of these persons were functionally illiterate at the onset of the Independence era. Widespread illiteracy continues to plague Caribbean societies and accounts for significant parts of their development challenges,” he said, as education was identified as one of the six areas that would be boosted by reparations.
He spoke too about the criminalization and shattering of both African culture and identity in the region.

“Africans were deculturalized and today remain impoverished in respect or cultural legitimacy and supportive appropriate institutional arrangements,” Beckles said. “Contemporary manifestations of these include low ethnic self-esteem; the devaluation of black identity; broken structures and diminished family values; delegitimization of African derived religion and cultural practices, and disconnection from ancestral roots and culture.”

He said that for over 400 years Africans were classified in law as non-human, chattel, property and real estate.

“They were denied recognition as members of the human family by laws and practices derived from theparliaments and policies of Europe. This history has inflicted massive psychological damage upon African descendants and is evident daily in social life,” he added, emphasizing the reasons for seeking reparations.

Beckles also pointed to the health problems suffered by the African descendants of slaves in the Caribbean who now have the highest incidence in the world of chronic diseases in the form of hypertension and type two diabetes. He said this was, “a direct result of their nutritional exposure, endemic inhumane physical and emotional brutalization and other aspects of the stress experience of slavery and post slavery apartheid.”

The quest for reparations by leaders of Caribbean nations remains a controversial issue.  On his recent trip to the region the UK's overseas territories minister, Mark Simmonds,  who also has responsibility for the UK’s relationship with the Caribbean, said that Europe was not in a financial position to compensate the region for human atrocities that were perpetrated two centuries ago.

Nevertheless, the leaders continue to press the issue and have also engaged in talks with the specialist UK law firm Leigh Day, which was able to win a major settlement from the British government for thousands of Kenyan clients tortured by the colonial masters during the Mau-Mau rebellion of the 1950s.

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CASE backs conservation law

CASE backs conservation law

| 11/12/2013 | 12 Comments

(CNS): On the eve of the anticipated debate in the Legislative Assembly Wednesday on the long awaited and much discussed National Conservation Law, the Society of Cayman Architects, Surveyors and Engineers (CASE) has offered its backing to the law and is urging its passage to offer certainty for developers. Despite the scare-mongering in recent weeks that the law will put an end to development in the Cayman Islands, the professional body whose members are entirely dependent on development have offered their support, with the majority agreeing that the bill is an “essential piece of legislation that needs to be enacted as soon as possible”.

In a statement released to the press on Tuesday, CASE said that it “supports the immediate adoption of the 2013 National Conservation Law as we recognise, and endorse efforts to conserve unique, local, endemic and indigenous features, species and habitats of the Cayman Islands.”

The body’s executive council went on to advise its members to become actively involved in what it said would be many opportunities created by the National Conservation Law. Far from wringing their hands at the imminent collapse of the economy as we know it, as has been advocated in some quarters, the group of architects, surveyors and engineers said the proposed law will bring much more certainty to the steps relating to development.

“It will eliminate the current practice of addressing the environmental concerns of a proposed major development on an ad-hoc basis without clear requirements or guidelines, which is a welcome relief to investors who will now know upfront what the requirements are for an environmental impact assessment,” CASE said. “Many international investors are accustomed to considering environmental aspects of a major development prior to the planning application process.”

This was a point made on several occasions over the last few weeks by the director of the Department of Environment, Gina Ebanks-Petrie. She explained that modern developers and contractors anticipate the need for the environment to be taken into consideration when they make plans to begin a project. In the current environment there are no certainties and the Central Planning Authority has directed investors and developers on an ad hoc basis regarding environmental impact assessments, which has created an uneven playing field.

The law has its critics on both sides of the debate, with many believing it is not sufficient to protect the critical situation for many of the country's endemic species, while others are still advocating against it because they believe it goes too far — an impasse has prevented legislation from being passed for the last decade. However, CASE noted that the majority of the members who responded to its survey on the law agreed with it and recognized that while it is not perfect, it is appropriate in the local context.

“The new National Conservation Law is a first step towards a sustainable development policy for the Cayman Islands that if successfully implemented, will hopefully preserve the variety and richness of our natural environment for future generations,” the group stated.

Pointing to the need for the long overdue update to the Cayman Islands Development Plan and supporting regulations to support the NCL, CASE said this, more than any other law, would ensure sustainable development in the Cayman Islands for current and future generations.

Recognising that some have viewed the NCL with uncertainty in recent weeks, the society said there was sufficient leeway in the legislation to amend aspects of the law if it became apparent that some areas needed to be strengthened or relaxed, after a suitable period of monitoring and review.

CASE also pointed to the benefits to be gained from collaboration between the National Conservation Council, design professionals and developers and related professional to maximize the economic and environmental benefits of the National Conservation Law and urged Cabinet to include representatives from the sector in its quota of appointed Conservation Council members.

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