An aviation and intelligence firm which plans to station Black Hawk helicopters on Cayman Brac has been granted planning permission for an airfield on the island.
Daggaro Cayman aims to set up an aviation testing and training centre which will ‘pioneer’ emerging technologies in manned and unmanned aircraft, according to the company’s website.
The Development Control Board approved plans submitted last month for the air base on land adjacent to the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport following a meeting on 1 Dec. In granting permission for the project, the board noted there were “numerous conditions” attached to that approval which have yet to be made public.
The plans, which include a 15,000-square-foot helicopter hangar, a 25,000-square-foot aircraft parking area, an office building, concrete apron and taxiway, drew multiple letters of objection from neighbouring property owners.
The National Trust was among a number of objectors to speak out against the project, citing concern that the land proposed for the hangar is habitat for the endangered Sister Islands rock iguana.
The Trust and other landowners listed concerns including the proximity of the proposed development to the West End Community Park.
The loss of natural vegetation, and the impact on Nurse Smith Cave and an historic turtle kraal – used in previous generations to keep turtles alive until they were needed for consumption – were also cited as a concern in letters submitted to the board.
“Aesthetically, we believe that this new expanse of asphalt and accompanying outbuilding would create a first impression for visitors to the island which is at odds with the natural beauty that exists throughout the Sister Islands,” wrote one neighbouring resident in a letter of objection.
The National Conservation Council recommended in its submission that the development be relocated to a different site.
“There are areas closer to the existing terminal which are already man-modified and do not have the same cultural value,” the council said.
The planning department confirmed this week that the application was approved with numerous conditions attached. The detail of those conditions will be laid out in the full planning decision and minutes from the meeting, which are expected to be made public later this week.
It is understood the conditions are designed to address some of the concerns raised.
Daggaro did not respond to requests for comment this week.
The company, headquartered in Switzerland, states on its website that it is “at the forefront of advanced technology in delivering aviation and intelligence services”.
The site indicates that Daggaro is involved with drone technology as well as disaster management, medical evacuation, training and law enforcement support for maritime patrol, and search and rescue.
“Daggaro is an aviation and aerospace services company, pioneering emerging technologies through the exploitation and development of manned and unmanned aircraft,” it said.
On its site, Daggaro says its three principal areas are rotary and fixed-wing operation, contract intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, and training for operators in multiple domain environments.