By Staff Writer
The lobby group Amplify Cayman has called on the PACT government to rethink its plans for the East-West Arterial Extension.
Citing a number of reservations about the proposed project, Amplify Cayman says it doubts it would alleviate the traffic congestion as intended, and worries that the road would pose a severe threat to the environment, especially the Central Mangrove Wetlands.
“We plead with Cabinet to no longer dismiss expert advice against harmful developments and instead ask Cabinet to listen to public concern, expert advice, and action groups when developments of a grand scale are being proposed,” the group said in a press statement.
Their opposition to the project coincided with ongoing public consultations being conducted by the government including an environmental impact assessment and explaining to the public the rationale for undertaking the extension to the vital east-west traffic corridor.
“We must ask ourselves - are we really trying to resolve the traffic crisis with this road? For decades, building more roads has not solved traffic, so perhaps what we really need is to discuss fixing traffic issues,” Amplify Cayman asks.
It stresses that it’s not anti-development, but pro-sustainable development, and is in favour of development that brings long-term benefits for Cayman. However, it concludes that the East-West Arterial Extension road in its proposed location would not be such a development.
“A solution that creates another problem isn’t a solution. Long-term, this road will not even prove to be a solution to traffic. Time and time again, we see that more bypass roads lead to more development, and more development equals more traffic (and carbon emissions).”
Further, Amplify Cayman contends that the proposed road will be below sea level, leaving Cayman less resilient during hurricane season.
“From a climate perspective, destroying mangroves increases greenhouse gas emissions and depletes our already limited healthy coastal ecosystems, which are critical to our climate resilience. We cannot afford to keep slicing up the Central Mangrove Wetlands -
healthy wetlands equal healthy humans, a thriving tourism industry, and a resilient community.”
Regarding the traffic implications, it argues that “we must get to the root of the traffic issue and solve the issue in a more sustainable way, in harmony with nature” adding that “the order in which we solve this issue is critical to balance: conserve, weigh our options, make a development plan, and implement progressive infrastructure.”
According to Amplify Cayman, time and time again, these developments prove to be harmful, as they decimate the marine and terrestrial environments, harm socioeconomic health, fracture communities, and negatively impact Cayman’s culture and heritage by removing Beach Accesses.
“To develop the wetlands in our Islands shows a disregard for negative environmental and socio-economic impacts, and is in direct conflict with the 2001 Environment Charter, our Constitutional Bill of Rights, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, internationally recognized best practice for Climate Action, and the One Planet Living Principles,” Amplify Cayman said in its statement opposing the East-West Arterial Extension.
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