Jersey taken by surprise as ferry plan announced

JERSEY politicians have been surprised to learn that the States of Guernsey is poised to buy a new conventional ferry to sail on the Channel Islands route.

Jersey's Economic Development minister Senator Lyndon Farnham. (Picture by David Ferguson, 30387725)
Jersey's Economic Development minister Senator Lyndon Farnham. (Picture by David Ferguson, 30387725)

The ferry, which it is estimated would cost between £15m. and £20m., would be leased to Condor and join its fleet.

Jersey’s Economic Development minister, Lyndon Farnham, pictured right, said he had been in talks with Guernsey and Condor, but said the announcement was unexpected.

‘While Guernsey’s announcement was unexpected, discussions remain ongoing and we will continue working together to find the best solution for the islands,’ he said.

‘We have no details other than to say that they are looking at acquiring a new ferry, so our officials are going to be looking to ascertain some details from Guernsey.’

He had first raised the idea of a new passenger-freight ferry in 2016 and had said at the time it was a mistake to replace the Condor Express and Vitesse fast ferries with the Liberation, which has proved to be unpopular with customers over the years.

The announcement was made earlier this week by Policy & Resources president Peter Ferbrache, who said he could see the intended contract ‘lasting for a considerable period of time’.

Although the new ferry will likely service Jersey as well, Guernsey will be responsible for its funding.

‘We were not aware of what Deputy Ferbrache said and therefore we do not have a lot of detail.

‘How it is funded is entirely a matter for them. We are solely interested in ensuring we have sustainable sea links, especially in the aftermath of Covid, which has placed a lot of carriers under pressure,’ said Senator Farnham.

Condor had originally intended to purchase a new ferry in 2020 but was unable to due to the pandemic.

Senator Farnham however said that he was confident there would be sufficient demand for an additional ship as the world begins to move on from Covid.

‘The work on our future position shows that the economy will continue to grow as the world moves out of the pandemic and there will be increased demand for freight,’ he said.

Guernsey’s Scrutiny Management president, Deputy Yvonne Burford, said she was surprised that the plans had been released before P&R had published its air and sea links policy.

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