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Environmental issues claim ‘heavy-handed’

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SUGGESTING outdoor activity companies could cause environmental issues ‘is a bit heavy-handed’, one business owner has said.

Cobo is one of four sites where planning permission is being sought to allow outdoor activity companies to leave equipment. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 21363690)

Ant Ford Parker of Outdoor Guernsey was commenting after Agriculture, Countryside and Land Management Services announced it would be issuing licences for such companies to carry out activities in public coastal areas.

However, while he was undecided about the new measures, other operators thought they would be a good idea.

‘It could be good, it could be bad,’ said Mr Ford Parker.

‘It all depends how it’s handled, they need to gather more information.

‘I think there is no evidence to suggest that our activities are a cause for concern and phrasing it under the title of environmental issues is a bit heavy-handed.

‘If they bring it in without proper planning and research, it could cause a lot of problems down the line.

‘Where will it stop? Will cliff fishermen be made to apply? What about the new jet ski hiring company, will they be made to get one?

‘How far will it go?’

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ACLMS has applied for permission for a temporary change of use for areas at Cobo, Grandes Rocques, Petit Bot and Portelet to enable commercial providers of activities such as kayaking and coasteering to comply with planning law.

If permission is granted it will allow licensed businesses to park vehicles and store trailers in specific locations.

An ACLMS spokesman said: ‘A system of licensing will allow providers to operate legally and assure effective management of public areas and sites of special significance, which balances the needs of businesses, the general public and the natural environment.’

Phil Le Poidevin, director of Go Land and Sea Guernsey, said the scheme could make running his business easier.

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‘I have no problem with the idea of bringing in licensing,’ he said.

‘It’s a good thing for us and it’s a good thing for Guernsey, with this industry growing it can only help.

‘I’ve had some good conversations with ACLMS and Property Services so I know where I stand with the law.

‘I don’t think it will make running the business difficult, if anything it may make it easier.’

Richard Klein, principal of the Guernsey Sailing Trust, said it was hard to tell if licensing was the right move.

‘It will do very little to affect us as we only really operate out of the harbour,’ he said.

‘We are an accredited education provider that’s fully inspected by the Royal Yachting Association every two years.

‘This almost makes us exempt from any licensing that may come in.

‘So it’s hard to say if the licensing is necessary.

‘These businesses need to use more locations than us to operate, if the weather isn’t right they need to be able to move around the island.

‘Obviously this needs to be done safely and managed properly.’

A Guernsey Surf School spokesman said perhaps it was time all businesses were treated the same.

‘We run on separate stricter guidelines than the organisations which move around the island,’ he said.

‘The school is a static business that offers one activity and we pay three separate fees to do so.

‘We jump through the hoops, our staff are fully trained, and we do the safety courses.

‘We understand that this is how it works, we are in a prime location, we don’t have any other choice if we want to operate.

‘So the new licensing won’t affect us, we have eight to 10 years of continuity.

‘But for many years some operators have not had similar hoops to jump through, maybe it’s time they did.’

n ACLMS is in the process of drafting licences with the assistance of Property Services.

The licences should fulfil several functions, including giving permission to operate a business on States-owned land.

It will include the formulation of safety standards for operators and their staff to stick to and will set out conditions which must be met to ensure protection of the environment.

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