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‘We’ve got far more things to worry about than some pebbles’

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LOVED by most, hated by few, the removal of the ‘Guernsey Together’ rock towers has divided islanders, who have spoken out about them being toppled over by Environment & Infrastructure.

(Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28293739)

The first stacked towers were seen in April as many islanders, mostly stuck in their homes during lockdown, spent two hours of their daily exercise allowance building them to share some joy.

However, just over a month on, Agriculture, Countryside & Land Management Services, a branch of E&I, has said some are potentially dangerous – and some people are less than impressed.

Georgina Wills, who came out for her daily stroll at Vazon, said she saw no harm in them, especially considering some were not near any roads.

‘I’ve only seen children building them,’ she said.

‘I think it’s been something for them to do and enjoy during lockdown. I don’t see any harm in that, they have been a nice addition to the coast and nature takes care of its own anyway.

‘We’ve got far more things to worry about than some pebbles.’

One young islander enjoying the rock tower creations was five-year-old Victoria Filipczak, who said she had wanted to create one for a while and had liked seeing them.

This was echoed by Lynne and Mike Talbot, who agreed that they had also enjoyed seeing them, but perhaps now they were starting to look a little bit messy.

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‘To begin with they were fantastic,’ Mrs Talbot said.

‘We absolutely loved seeing them and thoroughly enjoyed the sight of them along the coast.

‘I think now they’re getting messy though and some have been knocked down and I can understand some of the reasons for their removal. They have definitely been a great show of community spirit, though.’

ACLMS said it was aware of a number of large structures being built in high places, such as on top of bunkers and coastal walls, and said they now pose a danger to members of the public, wildlife and the environment, including by toppling onto people sitting or walking beneath them and causing damage to vehicles, and placing extra workload on clearance teams if they topple into roads.

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They have also spoken out against painting stones because when they are returned to the beach they will disturb the natural environment, as well as having concerns for the ecology of beaches if too much material is removed.

Although the department said it was a positive community initiative, the safety of others, coastal wildlife and the future of the natural environment came first, therefore a number of the rock towers will be removed.

On social media one islander, Tim Davey, said they would simply replace the towers if they were removed.

‘Well done E&I, world pandemic going on and they’re worried about stones on walls and a few dozen painted ones ruining the beaches and affecting wildlife. Get a grip, if you knock them down we will rebuild,’ he posted on Facebook.

However, another, Elaine Smeja, said they could pose a risk to some.

‘I love seeing these, but some of the ones I’ve seen have been large rocks stacked precariously,’ her Facebook post reads.

‘If a small person, a toddler, was walking past as the stack fell, it could cause a nasty injury.’

The rock towers have been just some of the creative ways in which islanders have tried to spread joy, hope and togetherness in the spirit of Guernsey Together during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Danielle Kenneally

By Danielle Kenneally
News reporter

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