Department of Environment leaders say Cayman’s cruise berthing project has a long way to go before shovels can hit the ground.
DOE Director Gina Petrie-Ebanks said apart from a looming referendum there are several hurdles the project has to clear, especially where the National Conservation Law is concerned.
“If the project is going forward we need to update the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment,)” said Ms. Petrie-Ebanks weighing in on the great port project debate.
“The port, the piers have changed. We have got a pocket of dredging that was not there. It is dredging in a new area so all of this means we have to revisit some of the modeling that was done as part of the original EIA and ensure we understand any impacts that may not have been identified,” Ms. Petrie-Ebanks said.
Those changes, the inclusion of cargo operations. The DOE was removed from the cruise berthing advisory committee, but Ms. Petrie-Ebanks said they are pushing on with their duties.
“What is interesting me and what the Department right now is how we move forward in the best interest of the country, ensuring the EIA is updated, ensuring that decisionmakers have a clear understanding of what the impacts are and what the trade-offs will be and ensuring the public also has that information.
While the DOE is out of the procurement aspect of the project. They will be involved in the new environmental impact assessments and that includes choosing who will conduct it.
“We will be reviewing that information to try to bring some robustness to the whole process of the environmental impact update,” said Ms. Petrie-Ebanks.
She said if the project makes it to the stage of awarding a contract construction will not take place straight away.
“Once we have the draft terms of reference it goes out for 21 days of public consultation as does the draft environmental statement. But it is the in-between part. Because the length of that is predicated on what exactly needs to be examined,” said Ms. Petrie-Ebanks.
She said in the interim members of the public can read all the reports and summaries related to the project on the DOE website.
Ms. Petrie-Ebanks said at the moment the DOE is awaiting a report from the government’s independent consultant – Royal Haskonings on the scoping works for the project to begin further assessments.