Cayman’s Public Will Have a ‘SAY’ In DART Rock Removal Application

The saga continues on the Seven Mile Beach rock removal that is purportedly necessary before the construction of Cayman’s latest beachfront hotel resort.

The DART companies have recently agreed to conduct an environmental impact assessment (EIA) on the Seven Mile Beach lands in question, according to statements issued by the Director of the Department of Environment. DART Companies have applied to remove +/-1225 feet of rock set into the beach from the protected marine park directly in front of the new hotel build site. Gina Ebanks-Petrie, The Director of the DOE, recently confirmed that the environmental assessment board has been established and the scope of the investigation/assessment is nearly finished. Naysayers’ island-wide have decried this as simple hoop jumping and feel that it is a formality to the eventual approval of the hotly-contested coastal works.

The public, though, will have their time to voice their opinions. Within the EIA there exists a public consultation process wherein residents will be able to voice their objections to the proposed rock removal. All of their comments and concerns will end up as part and parcel to the final report. That report, then, will be delivered to the Cabinet and they will have the final say if the coastal works license will be granted or not. Whether or not the impact statement and the public’s stance on the removal of rock from Seven Mile beach will be enough to halt the precedent setting move remains to be seen. The DART group has effectively taken the stance that the removal of the beach rocks in question is the deal breaker for the planned five-star resort, likely a Four Seasons, to be constructed at all. Many naysayers say that the current makeup of the Cabinet (aka the deciding body for the permit to move forward) is unlikely to put the environment before economic activity, as there exists no one on the governing body that has a track record of championing the environment. Specifically, a Mr. Dwayne Seymour is the minister with the responsibility for the environment.

The Environmental Impact Assessment for the DART group’s application stemmed from concerns that the Department of Environment voiced – namely the potential for serious erosion and destruction of Cayman’s most important and valuable stretch of beach. Many species inhabit the area, and it is possible that the “beach rocks” in question may not actually be rocks but coral structures that support wildlife and hold the shimmering white sands in place. One thing is for certain, the public is sure to have strong feelings on the matter and the public forums to be held will surely see tempers and opinions flair. Even if the public opinion is a resounding “NO! KEEP SEVEN MILE BEACH AS IT IS!” one can’t help but think that this whole process is just a hoop to jump through in the eventual – possibly imminent – granting of permission to put shovels in the sand.

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