To progress the Integrated Solid Waste Management System project while contract negotiations are ongoing, the Decco Consortium has begun preparing for the Environmental Impact Assessment (often referred to as an EIA) required for developments of this scale. But what is an EIA and what is its purpose?
The simple answer is that an EIA is a way of making an informed decision on the environmental consequences and considerations of a project, policy or programme, ensuring that the potential impacts and risks associated with the project are outlined, with measures recommended where appropriate to avoid or mitigate them.
Here in the Cayman Islands, an EIA leads to better environmental scrutiny of land-based and coastal work applications, ensuring that developers, the environmental board and the local community all get their chance to have a say.
In the case of the Integrated Solid Waste Management System project, the EIA is not being used to assess the project itself, as the policy, the strategy and outline business case all went through a period of public consultation before receiving final government approval. This EIA is to consider the design and impact of the suggested facilities, which include a waste-to-energy facility, a materials recycling facility, yard waste composting, a household waste recycling centre and a lined landfill for residual waste in Grand Cayman. In Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, the project will involve yard waste composting, waste bulking and transfer and recycling facilities.
Currently, GHD, an international environmental consultant and a partner in the Decco Consortium, is advising on key considerations including the possible effects on the atmosphere, marine environment and terrestrial ecology. The Environmental Assessment Board nominated for the project must agree to the proposed terms of reference which will, subject to public consultation, help inform the decision-making process.
Once the draft terms of reference are published, a 21-day public consultation period, which includes open house meetings on all three islands, takes place. The terms of reference define the scope and methodology for studies to produce an Environmental Statement, which in turn will be made available for public input. Once the Environmental Statement is complete, planning applications for the facilities, currently slated for the end of the year, can be submitted.
The Integrated Solid Waste Management System project is substantial for the Cayman Islands and aims to significantly reduce the volume of waste going to the landfill, as well as introducing waste-to-energy as a renewable energy source, helping to lessen the Cayman Islands’ reliance on fossil fuels.
A rigorous process, the EIA ensures that the Integrated Solid Waste Management System facilities represent a long-term, environmentally responsible and sustainable solution.