Residents question logic of more quarrying at Chouet

QUARRYING Chouet headland would force nearby residents to sell their homes at reduced prices or greatly impact their lives.

Once Les Vardes Quarry is spent, Environment & Infrastructure has proposed the 8.5-hectare site as the favoured option to secure supply of aggregate, rather than importing it, despite recognising the localised environmental impact.

In a bid to balance environmental, economic and social impacts, this option was said to avoid offsetting the problem elsewhere, be more economically viable, and reduce carbon emissions for transportation.

The policy letter published this week shocked Chouet residents, many of whom banded together to reject the initial draft development framework several years ago.

Karen Michel was involved with that campaign and confirmed she has had no contact, despite contacting the States of Guernsey last year with health and environmental concerns.

‘I just have to read it in the paper. I have chronic asthma and just wouldn’t be able to stay here due to the dust pollution. It’s criminal.’

Due to the severity of her asthma, she must take strong steroids for the rest of her life.

‘Even on that I’ve still had four trips to A&E in the past 18 months as it’s still not under control. I won’t even be able to open my windows and that’s a fact.’

Aggregate transport lorries are expected to aggravate her condition, which are estimated to pass by every five to 10 minutes once the quarry was up and running.

But moving without compensation is not an option either, she said, given the expected significant decrease in sell value.

‘I’m so stressed with worry at the thought of having to sell my home. I’ll never find anything like this at the price I’d have to sell it for, due to the quarry. And with the current state of the housing markets, where to? This house was my pension for later years and now that’s just being stolen from me.’

Whether the impact assessments are unbiased is another concern.

Chris Hawdon has lived by Chouet for 17 years, and questioned the logic.

‘The main thrust of the report seems to be that while there will be significant environmental damage in Guernsey, there will be less on a world-wide basis and these damaging projects should be kept as close to home as possible,’ Mr Hawdon said.

‘Taking this to its logical conclusion, London needs aggregate and they should quarry in Hyde Park for it. A ridiculous thought of course, but it points up that you have to consider what is reasonable in the context of the area.’

Compensating for a major industrial development on one of the island’s only large green amenity spaces would be challenging, he said. While the report said the community was consulted, he was not aware of any residents being contacted.

Another premise of the policy letter is that importing aggregate would cost jobs and be more expensive, which Mr Hawdon said did not hold water.

‘There will certainly be jobs created at the harbour and the probable loss of jobs at Roc Salt, for example, will probably more than balance out. They repeat the assertion that importation will be more expensive, but so far as I have seen in the report, the only figures on this come from Ronez – the gamekeeper asking the poacher what to do.’

Maintaining the most significant headland habitats is proposed – including areas of special significance which border Mr Hawdon’s property – and Ronez has agreed that the development will offer ‘biodiversity net gain’ results.

‘Biodiversity does not come in small packages, everything is interlinked. It seems improbable that Ronez can compensate with small improvements elsewhere for damage to a large biodiverse area.’

n For more information on the opposition to the headland’s development, visit: facebook.com/chouetheadland/

n For more on the proposals, visit: gov.gg/article/184300/The-Islands-Future-Aggregate-Supply

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