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Environmental Assessment Will Kill Ironwood (According to Ironwood)

The developer responsible for the would-be Arnold Palmer Ironwood golf resort has asserted recently that the requirement being placed on them to undertake an environmental impact assessment on the lengthy extension of the bypass would likely result in the death of the deal.

Repsfor the project said there is now only a very slim chance that they will meet a December deadline to agree with the CI government for the road construction.

The proposed road would cut its path through the central mangrove wetlands and could impact natural storm protection and flood mitigation to communities along the route. This hasspurned the National Conservation Council to call for an environmental impact assessment of the road to be installed. These studiescan take upwards of a year or more and the results, depending on what they discover, would likely drastically affect the cost and viability of the road works and perhaps the project in general.Projected to cost +/- $50 million dollars, this throws a proverbial “wrench” in the developer’s planning. The CI government andIronwood reps signed a contract last year that includes concessions worth $22 million dollars for Ironwood if the road deal is not finalized mid-December of this year.

Ironwood says it would rather have the road than the concessions, though, as they believethe construction of the high-speed thoroughfare is integral to the overall success of the development.Additionally, the investors behind Ironwood are not willing to wait forever as discussions have already gone on for nearly three years. The reps for the project say that an agreement has been worked on since 2013 and has been carefully constructed to ensure that it meets with all of the requirements of the framework for fiscal responsibility. It was also specifically designed to ensure that the citizensof Cayman are getting positive value for their investment.

The Cayman Islands Department of Environment reported recently that it has been advising Ironwoodfor several years that an environmental assessment would probably be necessary for a large highway going through essentially untouched/unspoiled lands. They point to section 43 of the National Conservation Law – which was just enacted this year – that gave the council authority to require an environmental assessment when sufficient information did not exist for it to make a proper recommendation on the Ironwood development. These studies aredesigned to identify and clearly set out the impact/risk associated with a project and recommended steps to mitigate risks to the environment. With Ironwood there are potential impacts on the Central Mangrove Wetlands anda possible damming effect that exposes people to the south of the road to increased flooding risksduring a severe storm or ahurricane. The Department of Environment also recommended an assessment for the entire Ironwood golf resort but the Central Planning Authority was legally able to ignore that advice and approve the resort plans because the relevant sections of the conservation law had not yet been made into law. Time will tell if this is enough to keep the project from going under, though, as many closely monitoring the situation see the new road construction as a deal breaker.

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