The Department of Environment is recommending an Environmental Impact Assessment be done before Dart Real Estate can execute its plan to remove almost a quarter-mile of beach rock from a 5-star resort development site to the north of Tiki beach.
In its opinion to the National Conservation Council, the DOE pointed to the project’s location in a marine park, the characteristics of the development in terms of its size and use of natural resources, and the magnitude, complexity and irreversability of the project as three principal factors behind their recommendation.
Dart Real Estate aims to remove more than 8400 cubic yards of beach rock – around 700 dump-truck loads worth – and replace it with “beach compatible sand” for the proposed 5-star resort.
In a statement, Dart Real Estate President Jackie Doak said its application for beach rock removal was “…informed by more than a year of scientific study, including historical and recent studies conducted by recognised experts with in-depth knowledge of and experience with Grand Cayman’s natural environment.”
Ms. Doak added the company is committed to sustainable development, and that the proposed resort development represents a US $600 million economic impact during its development and construction phase.
The National Conservation Council meets Wednesday (22 March) to consider the DOE’s opinion. The council could order an EIA to be undertaken.
This wouldn’t be the first time the council has ordered one for a major development project. Back in October 2016 the council voted unanimously to require an EIA for the 10 mile extension to the East/West arterial, which traverses a sensitive mangrove wetland habitat.
The following is the full text of the statement, attributable to Jackie Doak, President of Dart Real Estate:
Dart Real Estate has reviewed the Department of Environment’s Screening Opinion for the National Conservation Council for proposed beachrock removal. Our application for beachrock removal follows the established processes and regulations for Coastal Works Licenses. It is informed by more than a year of scientific study, including historical and recent studies conducted by recognised experts with in-depth knowledge of and experience with Grand Cayman’s natural environment, as well as government consultation and public outreach. Dart Real Estate both wants and welcomes an independent third-party review of our consultants’ findings on coastline impact.
Detailed surveys of the study area from marine biologists at Cardno report that the shallow beachrock formation has a low density of coral colonies with little diversity compared to actual reefs nearby in deeper water. Coastal Engineers from Calvin, Giordano & Associates and Applied Technology & Management have evaluated projections using the advanced computer modelling and found that beachrock removal would have minimal impact on the beach and would allow the beach to recover naturally after storm activity.
Dart Real Estate has not yet submitted any applications to the Central Planning Authority for land works at the preferred site for a resort with a conceptual programme of 225 hotel rooms, 80 residences and 10 villas as we are awaiting review of the Coastal Works application. After visiting sites on Cayman, the five-star operator and Dart Real Estate identified the site subject to the Coastal Works application as the preferred site given its beach frontage, accessibility and depth that would allow us to set the main buildings east of the former West Bay Road, as we did with the Kimpton Seafire property, and in accordance with the coastal construction setback guidelines outlined in the 2003 Beach Review Assessment Committee Report.
Dart Real Estate approaches the prospect of beachrock removal with extreme care, working to balance the desire to preserve the natural asset of the beach to the greatest extent possible while making it more usable for all beachgoers and suitable for a resort development project representing more than US$600 million in economic impact for the Cayman Islands during development and construction. We are deeply invested in the protection of the coastline for residents and visitors, and we have much at stake in the consideration of beachrock removal. We are committed to responsible, sustainable development and the need to balance economic opportunity with environmental management. We invite members of the public to view our application summary and supporting documents on our website: dartreatestate.com