Conservation council re-formed after hiatus

The National Conservation Council has been reappointed, with McFarlane Connolly as chairman, and is scheduled to meet shortly.

The council has been effectively out of action since September because the term limits of many of the counselors expired and were not renewed.

The body, which has not met publicly since June, plays a role in advising government on the environmental impact of planning applications and other developments, and has responsibility for drawing up recommendations on protection of environmentally important land and species.

Members of the council serve two-year terms, several of which expired in September. It is understood that an administrative mix-up meant the members were not reappointed in time to meet in September or in December.

Mr. Connolly was announced as the new chairman in August, replacing Christine Rose-Smyth, who resigned from the role last January. Four other new members, Edward Chisholm, Dominic Oliver Williams, Franklin Thompson and Nadia Hardie, were announced at the same time, as replacements for others who had stepped down. Their term limits run to 2020. But the term limits for Mr. Connolly and several other members ran out in September.

The Department of Environment confirmed this week that it now had a properly appointed and fully functional council, and a meeting would be scheduled in short order.

The cabinet appointees to the council are Mr. Connolly, Patricia Bradley, Frederic Burton, Franklin Thompson, Lisa Hurlston-McKenzie, Dominic Oliver Williams, Edward Chisholm and Pedro Lazzari.

Other appointees include Gina Ebanks-Petrie, director of the Department of Environment, Timothy Austin, deputy director of the DoE, Adrian Estwick, director of the Department of Agriculture, Colleen Stoetzel, on behalf of the Planning Department director, and Nadia Hardie, director of the National Trust of the Cayman Islands.

It is expected to be an interesting year ahead for the conservation council, with the proposed development of Barkers, the debate over a potential national park in that area, the second phase of the environmental impact assessment on the cruise port, and a host of other large-scale developments in the offing.

Government has also made vague overtures about the prospect of revisions to the National Conservation Law. Premier Alden McLaughlin described some elements of the law as “ridiculous” in late 2017, and announced plans for a review committee. That does not appear to have been followed through, however.

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