Members expressed their disappointment at news Herm Island Ltd chairman John Singer was no longer prepared to invest in infrastructure to improve the island's offering because the department had ignored independent evaluations for a 21-year extension of his lease.
Deputy Mike Hadley said he had requested a briefing so deputies could know more. 'The whole thing just seems quite extraordinary – I could never understand why anyone would want to take a lease of Herm because they'd never make a proper commercial return. I'm surprised it's worth anything,' he said. 'It does seem that T&R is being totally unreasonable. Herm is extremely popular for islanders, let alone visitors who go there – it's really important that we keep it the way it is.'
Herm is part of St Peter Port South. Deputy Barry Brehaut said: 'It's very difficult to quantify the true value of Herm, which is viewed as an extension of Guernsey parks. You have to find a balance between our current financial imperatives and the longevity of an island which is indelibly part of the Guernsey tourist economy.'
The Commerce and Employment Department did not wish to give its reaction to the withdrawal of investment in Herm.
Mr Singer said negotiations broke down as the department deemed an independent price tag of £440,000 for the 21-year extension to be 'politically unacceptable'. Instead, he claimed, the department had asked Herm Island Ltd, a subsidiary of charitable trust the Starboard Settlement, to pay £6m. or £2.44m. provided all infrastructure work was completed in five years.
Treasury would not confirm the offers it had made.