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St Peter Port Harbour ‘a national disgrace’

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ST PETER PORT Harbour was described as ‘a national disgrace’ yesterday.

Deputy Neil Inder, left, with requete signatory Deputy Barry Paint. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 24734578)

The comment was made by Neil Inder, who is leading a requete calling for the States’ Trading Supervisory Board to produce a plan on using inert waste to extend the port.

But this faced an amendment from STSB president Peter Ferbrache and Economic Development president Charles Parkinson, suggesting that commercial operations be moved from St Peter Port, making it less busy and more suitable for leisure use.

‘Our harbour is stuck in the middle of the 19th century with some decrepit bolt-ons,’ Deputy Inder told members, labelling it a national disgrace.

Proposals to spend some £300,000 on environmental impact assessments for potentially using L’Epine and Guillotin quarries as sites to dump inert waste had been rejected at a previous States meeting.

But Deputy Inder said that Longue Hougue south – Spur Bay– was not the place for this, either. ‘There is no strategic use whatsoever for Spur Bay,’ he said. ‘It’s just an expensive offshore dump for inert waste.’

The amendment from Deputies Ferbrache and Parkinson sought to have a £1.45m. review of the use of both St Peter Port and St Sampson’s harbours.

The requete, said Deputy Ferbrache, ‘would be absolutely doomed to failure as a matter of law,’ because it did not meet the planning policies of the Island Development Plan.

He agreed that the harbour was overcrowded, but the amendment wanted to look at the whole of the east coast. He said this could be the most important debate in this States since the education issue.

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If accepted, the amendment could lead to an iconic development for the island and the STSB would make it a priority to bring a report back within 18 months.

Deputy Lester Queripel said that moving the commercial operations from St Peter Port would help reduce traffic and carbon emissions from heavy vehicles driving up and down the east coast.

Requete signatory Deputy Barry Paint said the amendment might seem desirable, but it was impractical. It lacked consideration and understanding of maritime knowledge.

He referred to the practical difficulties of manoeuvring large ships entering the St Sampson’s Harbour area due to the strength, direction and speeds of currents, winds, and the depth of water, plus the number of dangerous reefs that would need to be lowered.

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Deputy Jan Kuttelwascher said he would support the amendment, because he felt sure it would dismiss St Sampson’s as being the ‘Nirvana’ for all freight operations.

Proposition one of the amendment served only to ‘muddy the waters’, said requete signatory Deputy Rob Prow. The idea of making the harbour just for leisure use and moving commercial activities could take decades to come into full effect and a vast amount of infrastructure.

The idea of the requete was ‘simple but brilliant,’ he added.

Debate continues today.

Mark Ogier

By Mark Ogier
News reporter

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