Today is the deadline for people to comment on the National Conservation Law.
Minister of Environment Charles Clifford thanked those who offered their feedback on the draft law and encouraged others to do so before the end of today.
‘The public response so far indicates that the time is right to enact progressive, comprehensive legislation, in order to meet the variety of challenges posed by emerging environmental issues at both the local and global levels,’ Mr Clifford said.
‘This law will provide the legal framework, within which environmental matters in the Cayman Islands will be managed and regulated in the future.’
The draft National Conservation Law is intended to update environmental legislation in an effort to strengthen the protection of Cayman’s natural resources, while promoting sustainable development and mitigating the impact of climate change, states a press release.
It is also part of government’s effort to meet international environmental treaties, said Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie.
‘I urge everyone to get a copy of the law and read it, and to make your comments to us in writing. If there is something that you do not understand, contact DoE,’ she said.
The draft legislation brings together, in one law, the Animals Law and related regulations, which were passed in 1976, and the Marine Conservation Law and regulations, which were passed in 1978.
It includes, among other measures, greater protection for endangered and endemic species; the establishment of terrestrial protected areas (similar to marine parks); and mechanisms to better manage and fund conservation efforts.
‘The legislation will allow us to list endemic plant and animal species on a protected species list, and to compile management plans for those seriously at risk,’ Mrs Ebanks-Petrie explained, adding that this will help to preserve the Islands’ biodiversity.
In addition, the draft calls for a national conservation council of public officials and private citizens, which will be responsible for administering environmental law. Furthermore, a national conservation trust fund would finance the acquisition of lands, as protected areas.
For certain development projects, the law would provide the conditions under which an environmental impact assessment is necessary. An EIA is a study of the likely impact that a project can have on the environment.
Regarding the law’s other provisions, Mrs Ebanks-Petrie explained that for the first time, the law recognises the DoE, its roles and functions as well as gives conservation officers (officers who enforce environmental laws) specific powers. Because these powers are not currently prescribed in any legislation, the department’s officers have had to be designated special police constables, she said.
The legislation would also give the community a greater say in how the environment is managed and protected.
‘This law would allow the greatest amount of community participation in the decision-making process that I have seen in Cayman,’ she said.
‘It allows for public participation on the national conservation council; input into the establishment of protected areas and the nomination of protected species; and on the legal framework for the environmental impact assessments,’ Mrs. Ebanks-Petrie noted.
Public comment on the draft legislation will be taken into consideration in the final draft, which is to be debated in the Legislative Assembly later this year.
To comment on the draft National Conservation Law, send your feedback in writing to:
Government Conservation Bill Feedback
Ministry of Environment
Government Administration Building
Grand Cayman KY1-1100,
Or by fax: to 945-1746