DoE should take part in public meetings on port

At the Red Bay and Prospect ‘public information session’ Tuesday night, the Cayman Islands government and Verdant Isle Port Partners consortium representatives said that Verdant Isle has the right to be here “informing” (some might say “misleading”) the public about the port proposal because they are part of “a consortium” charged with the project to build our port.

However, our very own Department of Environment, which is charged with protecting the environment and has spoken out against the proposed port project because it would destroy our reefs and damage our environment, has not been “invited” to attend any of the public “information sessions”. Some might go so far as saying that DoE has actually been banned from attending the sessions.

When asked about that, Verdant Isle and CIG said that it would have been “inappropriate” for DoE to be there at the public information sessions. How can it be “inappropriate” for our own DoE to be part of this public discussion before the referendum, the outcome of which will fundamentally affect the environment that they are charged to protect for us?

Doesn’t the public deserve to be given the full picture about the proposed port project?

Pursuant to our Constitution, CIG have THE DUTY to protect our environment:

“Protection of the environment

18.- (1) Government shall, in all its decisions, have due regard to the need to foster and protect an environment that is not harmful to the health or well-being of present and future generations, while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

(2) To this end government should adopt reasonable legislative and other measures to protect the heritage and wildlife and the land and sea biodiversity of the Cayman Islands that:

(a) limit pollution and ecological degradation;

(b) promote conservation and biodiversity; and

(c) secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources.”

Verdant Isle and Dr. David Vaughan made a number of misleading statements about the state of our reefs Tuesday night, but the DoE was not allowed to put the public right on what they were being misled about.

Is only getting one side of the story before going to the polls on 19 Dec. acceptable?

Anna Peccarino

1 COMMENT

  1. DOE is Cayman’s only real authority on the marine environment, but being on the Government’s (CIG) pay roster fall under CIG’s civil servant policy. The excuse given last night at the Chamber of Commerce meeting is that DOE is not involved until the new Environmental Scoping (something less than a full EIA, looking just at the changes in the plan) is finished for their review, which won’t be ready until after the Referendum vote. DOE is being kept out of the information dissemination loop to the public leading up to the first People’s Initiated Referendum in our history. According to CIG, this policy which applies to all 6,000 civil servants on this island of ~22,000 registered voters has existed to avoid future conflicts between long serving civil servants and successive governments. The best authority on environmental issues ought to get some kind of exception. I am told that this policy is not in our constitution. It’s just a pre-existing policy. Policies are even more readily amended to suit new circumstances than the constitution. The policy does allow civil servants to answer questions when invited by the CIG. Why haven’t the CIG made an exception for our best authorities, the DOE to comment at public meetings on the environment that they know better than all the rest of us put together?