Verdant Isle Port Partners has submitted an environmental assessment scoping update on the $200 million cruise berthing and cargo project to the Environmental Assessment Board.
It comes on the eve of the courtroom showdown between government and those opposed to the project.
In a joint media statement issued Tuesday afternoon, government and Verdant Isle said, “The EIA Scoping Update takes into consideration the revised design of the proposed cruise berthing and cargo enhancement project submitted by Verdant after being announced as the preferred bidder in 2019, whereas the 2015 EIA was developed as part of the original RFP [request for proposals] process,” the statement said.
It continued, “The submission of the Scoping Update represents the next stage in a series of agreed project phases that must occur before Verdant can apply for the Coastal Works Permits associated with the Construction Activities. This process is also subject to the outcome of the referendum. A number of additional studies are scheduled to take place under an ‘Early Works Agreement’ currently being finalised.”
The scoping document, the statement said, was authored by Baird who were contracted by the Ministry of District Administration, Tourism and Transport to carry out the initial 2015 environmental impact assessment. Royal HaskoningDHV was engaged by the government to conduct a peer review of the EIA scoping update.
The scoping update was submitted on Tuesday.
Dave Anglin, senior coastal engineer with Baird, in an interview with the Cayman Compass in October last year, described the scoping document as a systematic comparison of the new and old designs and a preliminary assessment on how the changes alter the environmental impacts.
This latest development comes as government heads to the Grand Court Wednesday morning where the judicial review action brought by leading Cruise Port Referendum Cayman member Shirley Roulstone is set to commence.
The case has been set down for three days before Justice Tim Owen, QC.
Last year, Roulstone made good on CPR’s threat to challenge the referendum when she filed the court action.
The judicial review challenged government’s decision to hold the referendum on the cruise and cargo project on 19 Dec. 2019.
In December, Justice Owen granted a stay, delaying the referendum to allow for the judicial review hearing.
Among other issues, the review seeks to have the poll delayed until all relevant information, including an updated environmental impact assessment, is available.
Last month, government revised its port question to be more in keeping with the request from Roulstone’s legal team, which had argued that the original question was biased.
The initial question approved by legislators was: “Should the Cayman Islands continue to move forward with building the cruise berthing and enhanced cargo port facility?”
The amended version reads: “Should the Cayman Islands continue to proceed with building the cruise berthing and enlarged and refurbished cargo port facility?”
In January, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie granted a protective costs order shielding Roulstone from having to pay any legal fees incurred by government should her case against it fail.
The National Trust for the Cayman Islands had also filed for a judicial review of the port and cargo project. That case was later linked with Roulstone’s because of the similarity of the environmental arguments.