When we wrote an editorial in February 2012
decrying the situation over the downtown helipad in George Town, we didn’t
think things could get any worse. We were wrong.
It appears that Cayman Islands Helicopters
owner Jerome Begot has again stopped operating flights on the waterfront
helipad because of a court ruling described in today’s front page story.
However, the situation – ongoing for something like two years – has still not
been resolved. It is now up to the Civil Aviation Authority to “reconsider”
whether the aircraft can continue operating in its current location. Who knows
how long that will take?
Mr. Begot has invested hundreds of
thousands of dollars in this country to provide what should be an excellent
addition to the local tourism product. However, one week after opening in 2012,
Mr. Begot had to shut down operations while planning department appeals and
court filings crawled their way through the system. About four months of
inactivity and wasted investment later, the planning appeals decision came
through and ruled in Mr. Begot’s favour. Once again, Cayman Islands Helicopters
was flying high.
This ended last week upon the Cayman
Islands Grand Court ruling that the Civil Aviation Authority must revisit its
earlier judgment that allowed the helipad and the aircraft’s operations; more
wasted time and money will follow, we’re certain.
We cannot ignore the fact that downtown
property owners are faced with the daily drone of helicopter noise that they
say interferes with operations and quality of life. They were told that the
relevant law “provides that no action in nuisance may be brought in respect of
aircraft operations from a certificated aerodrome”.
However, in this case, it appears Mr. Begot
and Cayman Islands Helicopters did everything required and still ended up with
their future business prospects in doubt. Our fear is that the ancillary effect
of all this legal finagling will be that other local and international business
owners will decide that investing in Cayman is simply too risky and uncertain.