(CMR) The Cayman Islands National Trust is appealing the decision of the Central Planning Authority (CPA) to grant Dagarro permission to construct a military-style aircraft hangar in Cayman Brac claiming that it is unreasonable. The project was approved at a meeting on December 1 subject to six conditions.
Executive Director, Annick Jackman, penned a two-page letter on behalf of the trust laying out several claims as to why the property should not have been approved by the CPA.
The appeal notice dated December 17 notes that the appeal relates to the construction of the aircraft hangar and administration building to be built on Block 90C Parcell 66 – adjacent to the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport. The appeal notes that the National Trust supports “sustainable economic development” provided it “protects and preserves our fragile environment and historical sites.”
The letter notes that the approved site has the only “remaining remnant of tropical dry forest” in the Brac's far West End. It further shares that the forest represents a broad sample of plants and native trees “used historically by the people in Cayman Brac.”
It also mentions the West End Turtle Crawl is an important heritage site located in the same area. Acknowledging that the hole might be easily dismissed as “a hole with stagnant water” it argues that it is a “significant part of Cayman heritage” that should be preserved “as an illustration of our past for future generations.”
Objectors at a recent Brac meeting also shared concerns that the West End Turtle Kraal and Nurse Smith Pond and Cave are a significant part of a larger system of wetlands and must be protected at all cost.
The National Trust also objects on the grounds that the site is home to the endangered Sister Island Rock Iguanas (SIRIs) and has the highest density of this particular species which they use for nesting. Noting that the adjacent West End Public Park which is adjacent to the approved Dagarro site which has a large adult population of the SIRIs; which continue to dwindle in number.
The SIRI is a protected species under Schedule 1, Part 1 of the National Conservation Law and has seen increasingly dwindling numbers over the years. The letter notes that the iguanas are already dwindling because of feral cats and free-roaming dogs.
Finally, the letter also claims that the Brown Bobbies and Tropicbirds nesting along the Bluff are also at risk and would be negatively impacted by the “powerful aircraft”.
The National Trust has objected prior to the CPA's approval but the application was still approved subject to some conditions. They were informed by a letter dated December 10 that under section 49(1) of the Development and Planning Law (2017) Revision they have a right to appeal in writing within 14 days.
For their part, Dagarro has previously shared that there is no other suitable site in Cayman Brac. They noted that they had explored other locations before purchasing this particular one. One of the conditions of their CPA approval is that “native vegetation should be retained where possible and incorporated into the landscaping scheme.”
Apparent from this letter others have raised concerns about the benefit to the islands from the project as well as a lack of any verifiable track record for a similar operation by Dagarro. Dagarro appeared on CMR's The Cold Hard Truth and explained key elements of their project in mid-December: