Plans for an ostrich farm in the East End won’t get off the ground after the project ruffled feathers among neighboring residents.
Entrepreneur Gregg Anderson wanted to raise and farm ostriches for meat at a 16-acre site off Farm Road. He also had plans to turn the site into a tourist attraction.
The Central Planning Authority turned down his application to fence off his land for farming ostriches after hearing a slew of complaints from residents about potential noise pollution, disease and danger of physical harm from the birds.
One resident wrote: “A male ostrich roars like a lion. Some ostriches are aggressive and with their kick can kill a lion, so I know they can kill humans.”
Another complained that, with plans already approved for a race track and a shooting range, the East End was being subjected to too much development.
“An International race track, a shooting range, potential wind turbines, suggestions of a landfill and now an ostrich farm. Certainly, as a property owner in the area I cannot do like the ostrich and bury my head in the sand and accept this as well.”
The Department of Agriculture issues an extensive list of guidelines that must be complied with, but raised no specific objections to the project, according to the minutes of the Nov. 27 meeting of the planning authority. The board also heard from the Department of Environment, Water Authority and National Roads Authority, none of which raised objections that would have blocked the project.
But the complaints of the residents ultimately blocked the project; the authority refused permission “based on the concerns raised by the objectors.”
Mr. Anderson provided point by point responses to the residents’ concerns in a series of letters filed with the minutes. He said the fencing was designed to ensure the ostriches could not escape, and procedures were in place to safely capture any birds that did somehow manage to breach the farm perimeter.
He said the ostriches raised on domestic farms were not comparable to those in the “wilds of Africa” and were not typically dangerous to humans.
“There has been ‘NO’ reported case of ostrich killing a human,” he wrote.
He added that the Department of Agriculture had protocols in place to regulate the importation of eggs and chicks to ensure no new diseases were brought to the island.
He said the ostrich male boom, which it makes during mating season, was “no louder than a dog’s bark.” He said there were no residences near the proposed site for the farm and urged the planning authority to consider research and experience over the speculation of objectors.
He said the Agriculture Department had identified ostrich meat as having a viable market in the Cayman Islands and devised an extensive list of protocols to be complied with.
“The farm would like to educate folks on the ostrich and in addition supply a very lean, healthy red meat to island and as well offer quality leather goods for all to purchase.”
The application was refused and Mr. Anderson was reminded of his right to appeal.