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Gollop’s ‘greenfields’ amendment fails

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A CALL to stop Guernsey becoming an ‘increasingly busy and alienating landscape’ failed in the States yesterday.

Picture by Sophie Rabey. 06-11-19. States. John Gollop.. (26274554)

Deputy John Gollop’s amendment to the 2020 Budget aimed to protect the island’s remaining natural environment and promote the development of brownfield over greenfield sites with the establishment of a levy system.

Deputy Gollop, who resigned as president of the Development & Planning Authority, told the Assembly that they had to adapt to modern times and change the conversation around development.

‘This amendment is both a budgetary fiscal amendment and a green conservation-minded approach.

‘It makes more intelligent use of [the] island’s scarce resources such as land, habitat, and entrepreneurship development capital.

‘It can also as an immediate side-effect, kick-start the Leale’s Yard project, which has had 20 years of wasted opportunities. Also as a side-effect, revitalising the declining, depressed and sad areas and kick-start the building, design and architectural sectors.’

It was outlined that it is currently more profitable for developers to build on greenfield land, rather than more expensive brownfield land, but a variable development tax could have ensured that all areas were equally attractive.

The envisaged tax would then have been credited to a specific fund to be used for on-island environmental off-setting initiatives and infrastructure improvements.

The revenue could have been used in more direct ways to subsidise low-cost housing, rather than the much-criticised bureaucratic scheme where developers are forced to include ‘affordable’ homes in their projects.

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Deputy Gollop referred to the amount of public concern on the issue, especially in the north of the island where many green areas have been lost.

In Deputy Gollop’s vision, the amendment would have also tackled climate change, protected wildlife, promoted affordable housing, dealt with the ageing population, and stopped the ‘brain drain’.

Current DPA president Deputy Dawn Tindall gave wholehearted support to Deputy Gollop’s endeavour. ‘If we wait for the five-year review to wash this all through, it is highly likely that we will be recommending to Policy & Resources such a levy.

‘So for me this amendment short-circuits and gets to the heart of what we here in this Assembly have debated over the last year.’

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P&R president Deputy Gavin St Pier encouraged States members to throw out the amendment because it went outside the scope of the 2020 Budget and had been drawn up at ‘great haste’ and was ‘poor’.

T he wording of the amendment made it potentially a massive piece of work and there was ‘not a cat in hell’s chance’ of it being delivered considering all the other priorities.

The amendment was lost by 16 votes to 19, with 3 abstentions.

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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