Conservation law moves a step closer

Amendments to Animals and Plants Law passed

The long-awaited National Conservation Law has taken another small step forward. 

The law, which was debated and discussed for more than a decade before being passed by legislators in December, has yet to be enacted more than six months later. 

Legislators passed minor amendments to the Animals and Plants Law last week, which will enable them to move forward with implementation of the conservation legislation. 

The amendments, introduced by Agriculture Minister Kurt Tibbetts and passed without debate on Wednesday, are essentially legislative housekeeping – tweaking aspects of existing legislation that are now covered under the auspices of the new law, an over-arching framework for policing environmental issues in Cayman. 

The law is likely to be enacted in phases, with the first step expected to be the appointment of a National Conservation Council, which will be in charge of overseeing and enforcing the law. 

The law provides protection for endangered and endemic species and their habitats, mandates consideration of the environment on planning issues and gives new powers of arrest to conservation officers.  

It also sets up a process for government to use cash from the Environmental Protection Fund for projects, including buying land for conservation purposes or surveying endemic species. 

The bill was passed on Dec. 13, 2013, with some 35 amendments to the original draft, following a three-day debate in the Legislative Assembly. It still requires an order from Cabinet before it is enacted. 

There has been no indication from government of a timeline for full implementation of the bill. 

When it was passed, Premier Alden McLaughlin described it as “one of the most important pieces of legislation this House has passed in many a year.” 

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