Developers: revisions ‘significantly reduced’ impact of the project
The plans, which show a reduction in dredging compared with the original design, will be put through an updated environmental impact assessment.
Government and Verdant Isle Port Partners, the consortium named as the preferred bidder on the project, said the revisions “significantly reduced” the impact of the project.
Whether or not the plans go ahead depends on the outcome of a people-initiated referendum set for 19 Dec.
The newly released plans involve a 30% reduction of “marine excavation” volume compared with the original concept, which involved the dredging of around 15 acres of coral reef, according to a joint press statement.
The new plans involve a 30% reduction of “marine excavation” volume compared with the original concept, which involved the dredging of around 15 acres of coral reef, according to a joint press statement.
Premier Alden McLaughlin said government and Verdant Isle were now able to make the plans public after the conclusion of detailed design discussions.
“The Government has listened to the concerns of the public and have put the piers into deeper water and chosen a cargo option that also minimizes the dredging,” he said in a statement.
Government listed a 5.3% increase in the total size of the facility, an 11.3% decrease in the “marine excavation footprint”, and a 27% increase in the cargo port area among other key differences to the original design which was subjected to an environmental impact assessment in 2015.
The new plan also moves “marine excavation” away from Eden Rock and involves reusing excavated material for the upland land reclamation.
The plan still involves significant land reclamation for shore-side facilities, although the government press release issued Wednesday did not specify how much. The original plan called for 7.7 acres of land reclamation.
Verdant Isle is currently in the process of submitting a scoping update to the Environmental Assessment Board setting out the changes in the design ahead of an update to the environmental impact assessment. The terms of reference of that assessment will be determined by the board, headed by Gina Ebanks-Petrie, director of the Department of Environment, after consultation with the public.
Baird & Associates, the coastal engineers who carried out the initial EIA, are undertaking the update along with their subcontractors.
Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean and spokesperson for Verdant Isle, said the group had worked with government to modify the designs.
“Since the announcement of Verdant Isle as preferred bidder,” he said, “we have been working with the Cayman Islands Government and, in particular, the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands, to adjust and refine our submitted plans to better fit their specific requirements. We are happy to now be in a position to release these updated plans.”
The design update also adds capacity on the cargo side.
Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell said in a press release, “We are confident the project will deliver long-term benefits for the country, including providing a much needed increase of about 30% in usable working area for the cargo port that will make it available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
The revised plans can be viewed on government’s port project website at https://supportourtourism.com/medias/revised-port-plans/.