Access to south-east coast ‘in jeopardy due to neglect’

A FIGHT to improve the south-east coast of Guernsey’s infrastructure and access to its bays is not expected to be won in this lifetime.

That was the feeling of Garry Thoume, Guernsey Boatowners’ Association vice-president and Bec du Nez representative.

The comments come after extra warnings were issued to stop people using the increasingly dangerous footpath to access Divette Bay. The path was officially closed by the authorities six years ago.

Mr Thoume said he has been ‘fighting for the coast’ for years.

‘Soldiers Bay has been closed for a long time and the whole area needs looking at. I’ve been chasing Divette for five or six years. It’s quite a shame that nothing has been done,’ he said.

For generations Mr Thoume’s family has frequented the bays.

He said swimming in Divette’s gully in high summer is like being in a tropical lagoon.

‘It’s a beautiful place and a beautiful gully. When repairs were last done to the path, many years ago, the rainwater run-off went off the cliff – which was fine. But they decided to reroute it, which undermined the path.’

Despite the warnings of hazardous erosion, Mr Thoume said, lots of youngsters still use the beach, as he saw last summer.

Simpler and cheaper solutions than reinforcing the cliff have been suggested, such as building a gangway or installing a spiral staircase.

‘I’m sure we have the technology, skills and materials to do the job. It’s like pushing fog up a hill trying to get anything done about it.’

Garry Thoume. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29594275)

The States has looked at ideas, such as installing steps, but no options were found to be structurally, practically or economically viable.

Mr Thoume said Fermain was another example of neglect resulting in greater problems.

‘When Fermain [wall] got destroyed, I went there with a guy well worked in the granite industry, who’d worked in it all his life.

‘He quoted the repairs in the region of £33,000, which I took to Environment to say it needs doing, and now they’re saying millions.

‘They said it’s not a sea defence and was built for a military purpose.’

It has been seven years since the Fermain wall partially collapsed. Investigations into how to fix it could be set to start soon.

‘They’ve let the [Divette] path go so far it’s dangerous. It’s the same as Soldiers Bay – and the Fermain cliff path is very, very close to collapse.’

He said he was continuing to fight to get the problems dealt with.

‘It just drags on and on,’ he said.

‘I’ve been holding my breath and fighting this for blooming years to no avail. One day they might sort it out, but not in my lifetime.’

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