Extenstion delays conservation bill

Environment minister Mark Scotland announced
Thursday that the consultation period for the National Conservation Law will be
extended by six weeks to 27 August.

The extended consultation period means the
bill, which the minister had said was expected to go before the Legislative
Council in September, will be delayed being voted into law by
legislators.

The original month-long public consultation
was scheduled to end on Friday, 16 July, but Mr. Scotland said several
individuals, non-governmental organisations and community groups had indicated
that they wanted to make contributions, so he extended the
deadline.

A statement from the ministry on when the bill
is now likely to go before legislators read: “The bill remains a priority for
the ministry, but because the public consultation period has been extended,
there will be an unavoidable delay in bringing the bill before the LA as
government considers the public’s input.”

The Department of Environment has held seven
public meetings and several other meetings and briefings with interested
parties, such as developers, architects and the business community, during the
most recent consultation period.

Frank Balderamos of the National Trust of the
Cayman Islands described the delay in bringing the bill before the Legislative
Assembly as “frustrating”.

“They’ve been going back and forth on this
conservation law for 10 years and now I guess they need another six weeks. I
hope it’s not a delay tactic, but if it is, I don’t think it’ll work. People who
have spoken to me are very much behind this, they’re not just ready for this
law, they’re impatient for it,” he said.

At a meeting hosted by the Chamber of Commerce
last week, construction industry professionals said they had not had enough time
to examine the law thoroughly and to come to a consensus on it.

Mr. Scotland said in his statement: “By
extending the public consultation period on this bill, I believe that we can
develop the right legal framework to achieve these goals, so I encourage
everyone to take advantage of this extended opportunity to comment on the bill
and get involved in shaping the future of our country.”

This is the second round of public
consultations on this draft of the bill. It had been slated to go before the
Legislative Assembly last year, but did not get tabled before the May election.
An earlier version of the bill, dated 2004, also did not make it as far as the
Legislative Assembly.

In 2001, Premier McKeeva Bush, who was the
environment minister at the time, signed an environmental charter with the UK
that committed to the creation of legislation to ensure the protection and
restoration of key habitats, species and landscapes.

Director of the Department of Environment Gina
Ebanks-Petrie said: “The DoE will work with the ministry to ensure that it is
available to hear concerns and provide further information to all parties
requesting it.”

The draft legislation can be viewed on the
department’s website at www.doe.ky. Residents can comment on the proposed law on
the website. Comments can also be submitted by email to [email protected]; faxed to 949
4020, or mailed to NCL Comment, c/o Department of Environment, PO Box 486, Grand
Cayman, KY1-1006.

 

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