When it comes to the environmental impacts of development, everyone seems to have an opinion. The problem is, few of the opinions are based on knowledge.
Take the cruise berthing facility. Opponents have said, among other things, that it will destroy all the reefs around George Town and cause beach erosion along Seven Mile Beach. While they will often quote others who share their views, there is no published science to back the claims.
Opponents say the East End Seaport will be an environmental disaster that could lead to the island being split in half, to the death of plant life in the Botanic Park, to the tainting of an important freshwater lens and loss of the best agricultural land on the Island. They offer only talk as proof.
Now we’re hearing that a deep water channel in the North Sound will cause the stingrays to leave, the death of marine life and the inundation of Cayman during a hurricane. A 42-year-old study by a student is cited as proof of at least some of these claims, but other than that, it is just speculation.
No one should argue that the North Sound, Seven Mile Beach and the East End water lens are all very important to the Cayman Islands. No one will should argue that there will likely be environmental impacts of some sort from undertaking major developments. But no one should assume they know the extent of those impacts without a proper, scientific study being done first. Then, any potential negative impacts can be weighed against the potential benefits in making an informed decision whether to go forward.
People who simply say Cayman doesn’t need development need to come up with some news ideas about how this country can return to economic success. The old formula, the one used for so long before the economic crisis, will not suffice going forward; those days are gone, never to return. Cayman is going to have to accept change, one way or the other. If it chooses to try to regain the standard of living to which its people have become accustomed, then more development is undoubtedly required. People should get the facts first before dismissing outright every development proposal that comes along.