East End shooting range approved

Gun club gets go-ahead for new facility

Plans for a $1.45 million commercial shooting range in East End have been given the green light by the Central Planning Authority.

The project, which has been in the pipeline for several years, was finally approved after the Water Authority agreed to a management plan to prevent lead from spent bullets seeping into the groundwater.

The proposed 230-acre site for the shooting gallery, which will feature purpose-built rifle, pistol and archery ranges, sits above the East End fresh water lens at High Rock, a critical resource for the island. A previous application in 2014 was adjourned because of the Water Authority’s concerns.

Following multiple discussions over the past three years and the development of an Environmental Stewardship Program, the Water Authority ultimately supported the application from the Cayman Islands Sports Shooting Association.

The management plan places restrictions on the type of shot that can be used and details appropriate design features for stormwater management and for containment and recovery of spent ammunition.

The shooting association wants to create an “international class sports shooting complex” to replace the current gun range, which will have to move to make way for the expansion of the Owen Roberts International Airport.

The site will include an archery range, rifle range, facilities for skeet shooting, clay pigeon shooting and a pistol range that can be used by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service for training purposes, according to planning documents.

The Central Planning Authority discussed the application at its first meeting of the year on Wednesday and confirmed it had granted approval on Friday.

In its submission to the authority, the Sports Shooting Association, which has an agreement to lease the land from government for a nominal fee, indicates the venue will include some structures, including a restaurant and an indoor air gun range.

“It will allow the Cayman Islands to host international class competitions, adding another dimension to our tourism,” the shooting association indicated.

It added, “These ranges are located in a rural setting and are oriented away from residential areas and as practically as possible away from surface water bodies.”

The CPA received a handful of objections from neighboring property owners concerned about noise pollution and a petition from farmers concerned about the impact on the water lens.

The Department of Environment, in its submission to the CPA, requested that clearing for the project be prohibited until the shooting association showed it had the funding to complete the development as proposed: “This would prevent the unnecessary premature clearance of primary habitat, possibly years in advance of any actual site development.”