Cabinet urged to act

The following letter was written to members of the Cabinet.

I am writing to urge you to refuse permission for the costal works licence, which the developers of Emerald Sound Development are requesting.

Negative impact on surrounding shoreline as explained in detail below. In the past 50 years much has been learned about the dangers and negative consequences of creating a dredged channel leading into a canal. According to a well respected marine engineer whose qualifications are listed below, this will have disastrous effects on the shore environment. “My main objection on technical grounds is that the creation of a dredged channel leading into a canal could have disastrous effects on the shore environment. When any channel is dredged and therefore disturbs what is a stable environment, the natural movements of sediment, ie. sand and small material, will try to fill up the dredged channel. That is an absolute golden rule. What happens is that sediment is removed from the surrounding beach and fills the channel – then the channel is dredged and sediment is removed from the whole area – then more sediment fills the channel again and then the channel is dredged again, and so on. The effect of this continuous filling and dredging of the channel is that each time the channel is dredged sediment from the area is removed forever. Gradually the whole sea bed around the channel, maybe for 100s of feet either side, is lowered and the effect of that is that the shoreline gradually moves inland.”He also pointed out that “this would be the first place where the shore is breached in this way outside of the North Sound. The effects will be very different from the effects in North Sound and could be disastrous.” The architect for the proposed project keeps referring to the dredging in South Sound for Pirates Cove Estates in the late 1960s as setting the precedent for allowing further dredging. When things are known to cause damage they should not and must not been seen as precedent setting. Within a year of the 1960s dredging we saw what was once a sandy beach turned into a rocky shoreline and the shoreline moving inland several feet. This area was only dredged once and only to a depth of three feet. The dredged area filled in (as is widely accepted). We should not be repeating mistakes of the past. In order to maintain the depth needed for small craft traffic this area will have to be continually re-dredged thus magnifying the problems we have seen from this one single dredging. For a more recent example of the detrimental effects of dredging in South Sound, one only needs to look in front of the late Lawrence Thompson’s house. Please heed the warnings that our past dredgings have shown us, and marine engineers and our own DoE have explained to us all.

Reduction in water quality of the South Sound due to exchange of water between interior mangrove forest and sea water.

Extreme changes in the ambience of South Sound with the moving South Sound Road and the construction of a very large and out of character bridge structure. The marine engineer we consulted also points out that as far as the road changes proposed, “there are very real concerns about who will maintain the road and bridge after it’s initial construction (especially if damaged after a hurricane and the developer no longer owns the development). A bridge of this size built so close to the sea in an area affected by hurricanes and associated storm surge outside would have to be built to a very high specification to ensure it’s safety. The scale of the road and bridge with it’s approach ramps is way out of character with the surrounding area.” Essentially the bridge bypass will be around 25 feet above sea level at it’s highest elevation, encased by metal railings for 1,000 feet and piled with columns above a canal. It will resemble a causeway, not in keeping with the designated scenic coastline of South Sound. The drawings that the developer is publicizing do not shown this bridge accurately. They do not take into account the NRA requirements for this road or bridge structure.

Removal of the natural storm ridge would cause South Sound to be much more vulnerable to storm damage in case of rising tides and wind associated with storms and hurricanes.

Report of our own DoE, which advises against granting of such a costal works licence.

Similar recommendations of marine engineer John Carmichael, who has been independently consulted on this matter.

His qualifications are as follows:

BSc Honours from Glasgow University 1966

CEng (chartered engineer)

FICE Fellow of the institute of Civil Engineers

FIES Fellow of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland

Former member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (maritime)

Civil Engineering Board 1991-1994. Chairman 1995-1998.

Having spent all his working life in the field of maritime civil engineering, including coast protection works; being responsible for coast protection in the Strathclyde region of Scotland, which with all it’s inlets and islands has a coastline of around 3,500 miles (longer than that of France), he is well qualified to advise of known effects of dredging.

Human rights are an issue in this case and I feel that the Cabinet should be aware that although individuals can own terrestrial property we as individuals do not own the sea or the roads and we do not have the right to negatively impact our neighbours or fellow Caymanians through our actions.

Janet Walker

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