“Professional fees” an additional $4M
A solution to Cayman’s landfill problems will likely cost in excess of $100 million and won’t be completed until 2019 at the earliest, according to a Strategic Outline Case produced by government.
It suggests the country’s landfill sites have reached a “critical point” with the George Town dump likely to be at “maximum capacity” within seven years, while the Brac site will have reached capacity by next year.
The report points out that any plan to bring much-needed new landfill facilities to the Cayman Islands will have to involve a public private partnership – something that would likely require new revenue streams to cover the costs.
It suggests the eventual policy will see a “significant change” in how solid waste is managed, with the onus on residents to contribute to the cost of disposing their waste.
It calls for a public education campaign, warning there is a “risk that residents will resist bearing the costs for proper management of their wastes”.
The report, prepared by government’s waste management steering committee and released to the public on Friday, summarizes environmental and capacity concerns at all three landfill sites.
It recommends that plans for new facilities should be produced alongside a comprehensive national solid waste management strategy, encompassing all three islands and embracing recycling and waste-to-energy technology.
A tentative timeline in the document, the first step in a lengthy study and procurement process, suggests that a contract to build new facilities could be awarded by 2016, with a view to completion and the start of an “operations concession” by 2019.
It points out that borrowing constraints mean the project will have to be financed through a partnership with a private company. The new site would, therefore, have to generate sufficient revenue to make it worthwhile for a prospective partner.
“The Cayman Islands government cannot utilise conventional borrowing methods to fund the implementation. If sufficient revenue streams cannot be identified, and an effective cost recovery mechanism established, the project will not be achievable,” the report states.
The financial viability of the project will be hammered out in an outline business case which will examine “future and existing revenue streams.” That document will help inform the scope of a request for proposals for private firms to partner with the government on the project.
Before that takes place, an over-arching National Solid Waste Management Strategy is planned – something the report suggests will inform the rest of the process and create a nationally agreed framework that is immune to political change.
“It is unlikely that full implementation of a solid waste management system will occur prior to the next elections in May 2017. Development of a solid waste strategy will encourage continuity through successive governments who will be guided by the strategy to achieve the established goals.”
The outline case does not commit to any concrete options at this stage beyond stipulating that “there will be no investigation of alternative landfill sites” for Grand Cayman.
“The review of the options is broad at this stage as this will be informed by the outcome of the strategy which is to be developed as the first part of this project,” it states.
The exact cost will not be clear until the full scope of the project is decided, but the report suggests it will be at least $100 million. It recommends that $2 million be set aside in the next two budgets to fund the various “professional fees” associated with producing the reports, also including environmental impact assessments on all three current landfill sites.
Health Minister Osbourne Bodden, who is leading the process, said, “The Strategic Outline Case is a key step towards the development of a solid waste strategy that will comprehensively and sensitively manage waste in the Cayman Islands for the next 50 years.” He said extensive public consultation was built into the process and people would have the opportunity to contribute.