‘We can generate the power to keep lights on’

GUERNSEY’S lights will stay on regardless of any actions by French fishermen, Guernsey Electricity said yesterday.

The NKT Victoria in Havelet Bay laying the new GJ1 cable to link Guernsey to Jersey and on to the European grid in 2019. The cable link is under threat due to a dispute between Jersey and France over fishing rights. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29513520)
The NKT Victoria in Havelet Bay laying the new GJ1 cable to link Guernsey to Jersey and on to the European grid in 2019. The cable link is under threat due to a dispute between Jersey and France over fishing rights. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29513520)

With threats made in the French parliament to switch off the electricity cable link serving the islands as Jersey and France fall out over the issue of post-Brexit fishing licences, GE was confident in its on-island generation capability in the short term.

French National Assembly Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin threatened to switch off the islands’ power supply as last night the French fishing fleet was preparing to head to Jersey to blockade the island’s harbour in protest.

In response, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK would send two offshore patrol vessels to monitor the situation, and underlined 'unwavering support' for Jersey. A blockade would be 'completely unjustified'.

Guernsey Electricity CEO Alan Bates said: ‘We can reassure all consumers of the resilience of the local generation capability and there is sufficient capacity to meet all the island’s electricity demand.'

He added that Guernsey would push ahead with talks to secure a direct power link with France.

More than 90% of Guernsey’s electricity last year came via the cable link.

Reports from France yesterday had French politicians negotiating with Jersey claiming that ‘trust has been damaged’.

But Guernsey’s lead politician on external relations, Jonathan Le Tocq, said yesterday relations with the French had never been better.

Guernsey is moving slowly in replacing its fishing licensing regime with the French.

‘We’ve shared things at every corner with the French, so that they can ask questions and understand how it would operate, so there’s been clear understanding, and I have to say that our relationship is probably as good as it has ever been,’ said Deputy Le Tocq.

‘But I have to say that I’m well aware that things can get conflated and inflated very quickly so we do want to monitor this situation.’

Deputy Le Tocq was confident about the prospects for continued electricity supply.

‘There are three cables between Jersey and France so I’m not sure they’d be cutting all the cables, and secondly, we’ve retained on-island generation.

‘The French would be well aware that there’s a difference there in the liability between Jersey and Guernsey.’

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