The DoE has received some enquiries about the status and timeline of the Port Zeus (Brac Marina Village) Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) following the publication of a story in the Cayman Compass. The information provided in the Compass article incorrectly attributes a 9 month delay to the DoE/Environmental Assessment Board, however the months-long gap was actually the time it took for the project proponent and their consultancy firm to prepare the draft Terms of Reference (TOR) which outlines how the EIA will proceed.
Since the EIA process is public information, we have created a timeline to show how the project has progressed through the stages of the EIA.
There is a misinformed idea that an EIA is a lengthy process conducted by the DoE, but an EIA is in fact carried out by the project proponent or applicant, with oversight from an Environmental Assessment Board (EAB). The EAB is formed specifically for each project and thus composed of relevant Government authorities, including the DoE. The EIA process and the timelines for the EAB to respond to submission of key documents are set out in the National Conservation Act EIA Directive (2016) found at: https://doe.ky/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Gazette-EIA-Directive-29-June-16.pdf
It is the project proponent that prepares and conducts the EIA for review by the EAB, and therefore the length of time an EIA takes is usually controlled by the proponent and their consultants and depends on the nature of the project.
The Terms of Reference (TOR) are the ‘recipe’ for the EIA, including all of the studies needed to fully inform the final EIA report. Once the draft TOR are finalized it goes out for public review through a consultation process organised by the proponent and their consultants, in keeping with the EIA Directive. This ensures not only transparency of the project details but the opportunity for the public to comment on the project and identify any important considerations which were missed and should be addressed by the EIA.
The EIA process is an integral part of sustainable thinking and planning before major development projects begin, to ensure all of the impacts to people and nature are considered within the framework of the project. It’s important to note that and EIA is not a decision. It’s an information report to help decision makers make a fully informed decision.