Guernsey Press

‘Government’s failure to plan puts north at risk’

FAILURE by the States over more than a decade to adequately plan for essential infrastructure risks economic and environmental disaster, say the island’s two northern parishes.

St Sampson’s douzenier Rob Gill, standing within St Sampson’s Church cemetery, is overshadowed by scrap metal from the recycling yard. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29771397)

Parish officials from St Sampson’s and the Vale have joined together to express concerns about lack of foresight from government. They list the issues on pages 12 and 13 inside today.

St Sampson’s douzenier Rob Gill said the States’ inability to plan properly for the future disproportionately impacted businesses and residents in the north of the island, and in the process was endangering the islands and eroding quality of life.

Among its concerns is the possibility of another fire at Guernsey Recycling and Scrap Metal, right next to the parish church, the island’s oil and fuel storage facility, Norman Piette’s timber mill, and Guernsey Water’s Longue Hougue reservoir.

It also refers to the blast hazard posed by fuel tankers drying at St Sampson’s Harbour.

The parishes are also frustrated at a lack of official recognition of their concerns.

The statement calls on government for an official response, but efforts so far have not yielded much response, said Mr Gill.

‘We sent this to the Chief Minister on 28 February asking for a response and he put us off and put us off, and then passed it to Deputy Heidi Soulsby, saying it was a douzaine matter,’ said Mr Gill.

A meeting with Deputy Soulsby took place on 13 May and the douzaine was promised a written response and if they were unhappy with that, they could meet the Committee for Environment & Infrastructure, the planning department and the States’ Trading Supervisory Board.

Mr Gill said that so far it has not received any response.

After copying the letter sent to the Chief Minister to other deputies there was a response only from Deputy Steve Falla.

The States approved the preparation of an infrastructure plan in 2009, with the idea being that this would provide long-term thinking and value for money in developing and maintaining the road transport network, the ports, hospitals, schools, climate change, flood defences, e-connectivity, transport links, public transport, utilities, waste management systems, social housing and Guernsey’s ageing population, the douzaines say.

‘Twelve years on, this plan has yet to be published and the States of Guernsey will not commit to a date by which this will be completed,’ said Mr Gill.

At the same time, the Island Development Plan – which is in force until 2026 – was published five years late. It was already seen to be out of date at the time and is considered seriously flawed by all parishes.

‘There is simply no consideration being given to the extensive infrastructure required to support proposed developments or the conservation of the parish,’ said Mr Gill.

‘We don’t want people to get the wrong idea – we’re not anti-development. We want to drive the economy and the policy and make it busy and thriving.

‘But we want to do it with a plan and what the States don’t have is a plan.’