The outcome of a court case challenging a referendum on the controversial Cayman Islands massive cruise port project should be known in the next two weeks.
The historic referendum, which had been scheduled for 19th December, 2019 was postponed after the National Trust and the Cruise Port Referendum groups(CPR), sought a judicial review.
They are challenging the government’s decision to proceed with a referendum on the $200 million port project before an updated environmental impact assessment is completed.
Opponents of the port project say there is too much at stake environmentally and that the government should not remove acres of coral reef for the mega-vessels.
On the other hand, pro-port campaigners have said the increase in cruise passengers aboard these bigger ships would benefit the local economy.
Ms. Shirley Roulstone and the CPR group, who oppose the project, have taken the Government to court to determine the constitutionality of the Government’s referendum process.
Their challenge is based on whether there needs to be a guiding framework in place to have a referendum or if one could simply be designed by Government for this purpose.
They also contend that the government had 11 years to implement the necessary measures but failed or chose not to do so.
The National Trust for the Cayman Islands is also an interested party in the matter.
They are seeking an injunction, arguing that the government is in breach of its own National Conservation Law which governs environmental protection.
Proceedings in the Cayman Islands Courts wrapped up on 23rd January and a ruling is expected in two weeks.
The cruise port project is based on projections to increase cruise passenger visits to the islands and to accommodate mega cruise ships.
Cruise ship passenger numbers were down by roughly 6 per cent from January to November of 2019.
According to the Cayman Islands Economic and Statistics Office, between January and November 2019 there were 1,618,950 cruise passengers recorded.
That is a reduction of 106,771 from the 2018 arrivals which totalled 1,725,721.
There were also fewer cruise ship calls with 530 visits between January and November last year compared to 570 the previous year, a reduction of 7.2 per cent.
All of the vessels visiting Grand Cayman have a capacity of over 4 thousand guests onboard.
Although cruise numbers have been down, arrivals by air continue to soar, seeing an increase of 8.2 per cent in 2019 over 2018.