Monday, November 20, 2017

Ex-Minister Wayne Panton raises alarm on Environment

CNS): Wayne Panton said he was “disappointed” that Cayman now has an environment minister who appears to be “against the environment rather than for it”, as he raised the alarm about watering down the National Conservation Law. The former Cabinet member, who lost his seat in the May election by just a handful of votes, told CNS he had never seen such an “about-face in politics”. Just a few years ago the historic law had the unanimous backing of members, but now the example of truly “pro-Caymanian legislation” was facing an unwarranted backlash based on “fake facts”.

The former environment minister, one of the first politicians appointed to the post who was knowledgeable about conservation issues and became a true champion for the environment, said he was enormously disappointed with the recent turn of events. He said there has been a complete distortion by politicians of the legislation, which had been through significant consultation and enjoyed wide public support.

Panton said that the Legislative Assembly had voted unanimously for the law, which for the first time put the environment on a par with other considerations, such as social and economic, when it came to development but, he stressed, did not elevate it over them. He said it paved the way for conservation to be given equal weight to other factors and was designed to help balance competing interests and to ensure that the natural resources, which are fundamental to “what makes us Caymanian”, are not ignored in future planning decisions.

“But suddenly, people who voted in favour seem completely intent on repealing it or substantially watering it down,” he said, noting that the arguments to justify this rejection of the law were illogical and based on misinterpretation of the powers of the National Conservation Council and a misunderstanding of the law.