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Site for Weather Radar

Cayman Islands Government officials took a visiting EU delegation on a tour of the site for the Doppler radar station being funded by the EU. Left to right are: Administrative Officer in the Works Ministry David Fawcitt; Cabinet Secretary Orrett Connor; EU representatives Marlene Lamonth and Diane Sevais; Met Office Deputy Head John Tibbetts and Cabinet Office Policy Analyst Christina Rowlandson.

The Doppler weather radar station slated to be built in Grand Cayman is to be located on a two-acre section of Wilderness Farm in East End pending survey completion and site report.

Last week (Wednesday, 6 January) Cayman Islands Government officials took two European Union representatives on a tour of the site. The EU team was on a four-day visit (5-8 January) to Cayman to look at EU-funded local programmes.

Those on the tour included Cabinet Secretary Orrett Connor; Cabinet Office Policy Analyst Christina Rowlandson; Deputy Head of the Met Office John Tibbetts, Administrative Officer in the Works Ministry David Fawcitt, and EU representatives Marlene Lamonth and Diane Servais.

Before visiting the site, the EU representatives met with the officials and Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) CEO Jeremy Jackson to discuss the project delivery schedule, and to work out other budgetary and administrative details. The CIAA is the implementing agency.

Mr. Connor, who chairs the project steering committee and whose office has been instrumental in negotiating the project, said all the parties involved were keen to begin construction.

He cited as major steps the site selection and the establishment of the steering committee, adding that a next step was filling certain key positions ahead of the start of construction, scheduled after February 2010. The radar station should be completed in late 2011.

EU Project Manager Marlene Lamonth explained that the team had a very productive meeting with the Cayman Islands representatives regarding, amongst other things, the pace of project implementation; which should now be accelerated based on the next steps agreed on at the end of the discussions.

In this regard, she noted that the role of the steering committee duly appointed in November 2009 was critical going forward.

Wilderness Farm was one of seven locations considered for housing the radar, John Tibbetts said, adding: "This was deemed the best site; we looked at accessibility, power supply in the area; elevation; the fact that the site was inland, and also that it was far away from homes."

He pointed out that locations near the sea were avoided as the ocean movement tended to corrupt radar readings.

The station will serve the northern Caribbean, filling a hole in regional radar coverage, and will be linked to other radar stations in Belize, Barbados, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Tibbetts explained.

"This means that Cayman will get more accurate, timely and up-to-date information when a severe weather system is in our area, and as such our population can better prepare," he noted.

In March 2009, the Cayman Islands Airport Authority and the European Commission signed a 4.16 million Euros contract providing Cayman with grant funding to construct the early warning radar.

Speaking at a media briefing in July, then Leader of Government Business the Hon. McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP and Works Minister the Hon. Juliana O'Connor-Connolly both cited the importance of the radar in boosting the island's early warning capability. They also announced that Government would provide 500,000 Euros representing in kind contribution.

(GIS)

For further information contact: Prudence Barnes