Objectors take their argument to UK overseas territories minister
Environment Minister Mark Scotland has described the proposed Bodden Town dump as a “win-win” for the Cayman Islands, which his government intends to achieve, despite the challenges and opposition to the plan.
Consulting company Cardno ENTRIX will carry the environmental impact assessment of the proposed new dump at Bodden Town. The company was chosen from a short-list of three consultants approved by the Environmental Advisory Board.
According to a Ministry of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture news release issued Thursday, the consultant selection criteria included “expertise in environmental assessment, natural resource management, and permitting and compliance associated with waste management projects”.
“The challenge of effectively dealing with solid waste management has plagued successive governments over the past 20 years,” Minister Scotland said. “This government is committed to finding a practical, responsible and affordable solution to address the country’s solid waste problems. We support creating a properly designed, engineered and managed waste management facility because it allows us the opportunity to modernise our approach to handling waste, which will include recycling and waste-to-energy.“
Mr. Scotland, who is a member of the Legislative Assembly from Bodden Town, added: “Modernising our approach to solid waste management will result in the shift towards reducing and reusing as a strategy to reduce our per capita waste generation. We have an opportunity to make the necessary policy and operational changes to formally incorporate reducing, reusing and recycling into our day-to-day way of life.
“Our government will attempt to achieve this national solution, despite the economic and political challenges, because it is the right thing to do for this and future generations. Continuing to pile up garbage on top of the George Town Landfill and make excuses is unacceptable.”
The Environmental Advisory Board has approved a draft terms of reference for an environmental impact assessment of the proposed facility. Cardno ENTRIX has been appointed to work with the Environmental Advisory Board on the draft terms of reference and to carry out the EIA.
The proposed new dump site is in a 110-acre area east of Midland Acres in the District of Bodden Town and is part of the ForCayman Investment Alliance arrangement between the government and Dart. As part of that arrangement, Dart has agreed to close, cap and remediate the existing landfill in George Town and give government the land in Midland Acres on which to build the new waste management site. Under the proposals, Dart will finance the first phase of the facility, which is a lined landfill.
“It is the responsibility of government to make sure that this proposal, which includes the closure of the George Town landfill, and has the potential to be a win-win for the country, is evaluated properly by the appropriate technical review teams and subject matter experts,” Minister Scotland said. “We are committed to making sure the social, environmental and economic factors are all being considered.”
Dart’s proposal included an undertaking to provide an environmental impact assessment. Once that is done, the company can apply to the Central Planning Authority for planning permission.
The draft terms of reference is now open to public review and feedback.
A public meeting will be held on Tuesday, 20 November, at the Bodden Town Civic Centre, with a second meeting scheduled for Wednesday, 21 November, at the Public Library in George Town. Presentations on both evenings will begin at 7pm, but the public can review the proposals beginning at noon. The public consultation period ends on Friday, November 29.
The proposed addition of a dump site in the district has led to considerable opposition among residents of Bodden Town.
The Coalition to Keep Bodden Town Dump Free wrote to the UK’s Overseas Territories Minister Mark Simmonds on Thursday, saying the ForCayman Investment Alliance proposals contravene the tenets of the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility, which were signed into law on Thursday last week.
“The current intervention by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has created expectations of your continuing involvement, in the hope that the UK will fulfil its duty of assuring Caymanians of a government which respects, not only due process and good governance, but the rule of law, transparency, fiscal responsibility, and which respects our fragile environment,” coalition committee members wrote to Mr. Simmonds.
They said that in spite of the scope of the public projects involved and the value of Crown land being “swapped”, none of the elements of the deal had been submitted to a tendering process, “none has been independently scrutinised in terms of value for money, and none has been the subject of an independent, objective and unbiased environmental evaluation”, the coalition wrote.
The group went on to refer Mr. Simmonds to a letter dated 2 November that he had sent to Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush in which Mr. Simmonds said new development projects in Cayman “must be done transparently and properly”, and that major public procurements could be only if “the proper processes have been followed, including by complying with international best practice on procurement.”
They said the proposed closure of the George Town landfill, known locally as Mount Trashmore, and contamination of a new site in the Bodden Town district “are completely unnecessary, motivated only by Dart’s desire to get the dump as far away as possible from its upscale Camana Bay complex, and particularly from a luxury residential project it plans to add, with no regard for the consequences on the environment or on Bodden Town”.
The coalition urged Mr. Simmonds and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to demand of the Cayman Islands government that it suspend the ForCayman Investment Alliance dump agreement; commission an independent study by the Environmental Advisory Board of the best waste management solution for Grand Cayman and broad public consultation; and that proper requests for proposals be issued by the Central Tenders Committee following the Environmental Advisory Board’s deliberations, including in regards to any divestiture of significant public assets.
Cardno ENTRIX has been appointed to work with the Environmental Advisory Board on the draft terms of reference and to carry out the EIA.