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Environment group protests coastal development

Environment 03 Jan, 2024 Follow News

Photos by Ryan Mclellan

A managed retreat from Seven Mile Beach is urgently needed to protect Cayman’s precious Seven Mile Beach from further erosion, according to environmental group Protect Our Future. This means that proposed developments, including the 10-storey Aqua Bay currently in the works, must come under much more rigorous scrutiny before they are allowed to progress, the group stated.

To highlight the dangers such developments pose to Cayman’s fragile ecosystems, Protect Our Future has created a campaign, entitled Coastal Development Erodes Our Future, bringing awareness to these potential dangers.

“The far-reaching impacts of erosion are evident at the South end of Seven Mile Beach,” they stated. “The impact of coastal developments and the resulting increasing rate of erosion on our beautiful beaches is far-reaching, including loss of critical nesting habitat for endangered sea turtles.”

Protect Our Future is particularly concerned with the establishment of the mean highwater mark, which, they said, was not enough to prove the highwater mark given the speed at which the coastline changed.

“The current planning regulations, requiring a single survey to establish the mean highwater mark as the reference point for the coastal building line, are not enough,” the group stated. “This is due to the highly dynamic nature of the coastline along Seven Mile Beach, which can change drastically on any given day and even more so over the span of a few months. This change is exacerbated by extensive coastal development.”

Singling out this latest proposed development, Protect Our Future said Aqua Bay would not only impact beach erosion on a critical nesting beach for sea turtles, but also increase traffic and danger of accidents for both vehicles and pedestrians in an already ever-growing congested area.

The group said it implored developers and planning committees to follow the Department of Environment’s and National Conservation Council’s recommendations for a managed retreat, as this would be greatly beneficial not only to the value of that land, but also the value and beauty of all the surrounding land as well, and to the future of Grand Cayman as a whole.

A managed retreat along with a national policy on seawalls and for all structures to be moved back from the water’s edge as they are rebuilt or repaired, is critical for our future had been the been the driving force behind our campaign, they said.

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