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Deputies defy P&R in vote to save Dairy

News | Published:

THE future of Guernsey Dairy has been safeguarded.

(Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28471751)

At stake was the possibility of letting the Dairy and Guernsey herd die off, and allowing supermarkets to import and sell cheaper English milk.

Only members of Policy & Resources voted against the Dairy redevelopment plans, arguing that capital priorities needed to be considered properly in the post-Covid era.

The decision means that up to £26m. has been set aside for a refurbishment or a relocation of the Dairy, although the project still has a number of hoops to jump through before it begins.

Presenting the proposals, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, the president of the States’ Trading & Supervisory Board said: ‘The easiest and most economic thing, but it would be devastating to the environment, would be to close the Dairy down.

‘A bit like the bread we get imported into supermarkets. It’s tasteless, but people buy it because it’s 23p a loaf.

‘Milk would be the same, it would be a lot cheaper than we currently pay and it would be drivel, and it would destroy our farming industry and destroy our environment.’

The Dairy in St Andrew’s was built in 1951 and the last major refurbishment was more than 30 years ago.

It is considered unlikely that the current set-up will comply in the coming years with all the hygiene and food production regulations.

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States members heard how if English milk had to be imported it would present a serious threat to the island’s 14 remaining farms and about 1,400 milking cows which graze 8,000 vergees of field.

STSB member Deputy Peter Roffey drove home the message that the Dairy, the rural economy and the island’s green environment were intrinsically linked.

‘Guernsey fields are tiny compared to fields elsewhere, we rightly insist that they stay that way, they’re often separated by truly ancient earth banks absolutely going to back to the mists of time, which not only define the character of Guernsey’s countryside but contribute massively to the island’s biodiversity, they are wildlife corridors and they should never be removed or grubbed up.’

Many deputies expressed their embarrassment at the idea of the island losing the iconic Guernsey cow. Deputy Paul Le Pelley called it ‘an adulteration’.

Speaking on behalf of Policy & Resources, Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq said that they were not anti-farming or anti-Dairy, but that capital projects should be considered in the round and not on a first-come, first-served basis.

The key proposition on the Dairy was passed by 29 votes to 4.

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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