Report looks at impact of new port design

Scoping update submitted on eve of judicial review

Most imported goods (69.1%) enter Cayman through George Town harbour.

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.

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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.

Revised question

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.

Read the full press release: Verdant Submits EIA Scoping Update to EAB – January 2020

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  1. I am especially keen to see if they solved the problem in the new design’s northerly extension at the base of the landing for tenders. You may not have noticed that the new extension would cause tenders to pass directly over the Cali Shipwreck, eliminating any in-water activities on the wreck. Granted, that may be moot after silt from dredging and run-off from reclamation completely kill everything living on the wreck and leave it smothered in ooze. I am also eager to see if the loss of a majority percentage of the $23m-$26M per year in goods and services provided by the harbor reefs and wrecks will finally be accounted for in the economic business case. Even if only $15m/yr were to be deducted from the net profitability of this plan, it could never account for the permanent attraction and economic loss that will continue to be felt for hundreds of years and innumerable generations after the projected 50 yr life span of the project has expired. And I repeat this rhetorical question: who wants to add another 1M to 2M more cruisers per year onto our roads and attractions (as they originally projected in 2015)?! It’s as if we don’t already have plans to continue to overcrowd ourselves and stay-over guests with new residents. Don’t spoil our Paradise. I’m a solid NO.