The decision over whether to construct a new waste management facility in the Midland Acres area of Bodden Town while capping off the existing landfill facility in George Town will be left for Cayman’s next ruling government.
Members of the interim government said Thursday during a media briefing that, while work related to some environmental studies were proceeding at the Midland Acres location east of Bodden Town, the final decision about whether the new landfill would be placed there would not be made by this administration.
Moreover, two current Bodden Town lawmakers who had seemed to be supporting – or at least not raising any objections – about the new waste facility sang different tunes about the project proposal Thursday.
“I want to make clear that I wasn’t happy at that time that Bodden Town was the chosen site without even coming to us as representatives first,” said Bodden Town legislator and Community Affairs Minister Dwayne Seymour.
Health Minister Mark Scotland was a bit more reserved in his comments, but indicated he still wasn’t convinced Midland Acres was the best site for the landfill development.
“I have always been in support of identifying a solution to the George Town landfill issue,” Mr. Scotland said. “If the solution is to put a facility in Bodden Town, or East End or North Side or West Bay … then I support that.
“I’m a practical person [who] says we need to find a solution,” he said.
The government of which Messrs Seymour and Scotland were a part of for nearly four years had long proposed opening a landfill site in the eastern section of Bodden Town as part of a sweeping land swap/development agreement with the Dart group of companies. However, Mr. Seymour said Thursday that he never supported such a move and essentially held his tongue on the issue.
“I’m sure that a lot of people have squabbles in their family, but they don’t come out and say it on the radio,” Mr. Seymour said.
In fact, the minister of community affairs said he wasn’t even asked about the issue prior to a decision being made.
“I was a part of a group who made a decision that we could solve the waste management problem where it was at the current site [referring to George Town] and then the former premier made an announcement to me and my colleagues that the waste management facility was going in Bodden Town, throwing us under the bus,” Mr. Seymour said.
The Caymanian Compass contacted former Premier McKeeva Bush about Mr. Seymour’s comments. Mr. Bush said his former United Democratic Party backbencher was “trying to run for cover”.
“I am not surprised at all that Dwayne or the rest of them would try and duck their responsibility in this matter, or indeed, any matter over the last four years,” Mr. Bush said. “They were at all times involved and always at the forefront of the decision of the landfill going to Bodden Town. All of them [referring to the interim government members], but in particular, the two members from Bodden Town.
“I left it, as is usually done with things in members’ districts, for those members to have their say.”
During a public meeting held in March 2012 in Bodden Town Mr. Seymour made some comments on the issue:
“I haven’t said much on the subject of the proposed waste management facility in Bodden Town,” Mr. Seymour said at the time. “However, I can assure you that my silence does not (mean) automatic consent.”
Mr. Seymour, serving his first term in the Legislative Assembly, said he did agree the current George Town landfill was a “disaster” that needed to be addressed. “I will not support a solution unless it is in the best interests of the people of Bodden Town and the best interests of the Cayman Islands,” he said.
Minister Scotland said during that same meeting that a technical and environmental review would be done and must show that the landfill is in the best interest of Bodden Town residents before he would support the project.
“But I’m not going to be deterred by the politicking that’s going on,” he said.