Guernsey Press

Guernsey-Jersey-France tunnel idea ‘has interest’

GUERNSEY’S new development agency should investigate a tunnel link to Jersey and France – and potential investors are interested in backing the project.

Former Chamber of Commerce boss Martyn Dorey talking at Chamber Lunch in 2019. (30690255)

The scheme’s promoter Martyn Dorey, a former president of the Chamber of Commerce, said it was ‘critical’ that the new body look at his vision of an economically transformative Guernsey-Jersey-France link.

He said that investors in a tunnel project connecting the Faroe Islands were already interested.

The proposals for such a link were set out by Mr Dorey in detail in 2020, with plans for a 15-minute train service through an under-sea tunnel to run between St Peter Port and St Helier, ahead of a future extension to France.

Such a connection could ultimately cut taxes by boosting economic growth, said Mr Dorey, while addressing the challenge of an ageing population, with its resultant impact on tax take and public spending.

At the time, the cost of the first phase was put at around £2.6bn with a construction time frame of five to 10 years.

‘I think it’s critical that the development agency look at this and have freedom to look at this,’ he said.

‘If government was supportive, it may be possible to get funding for the feasibility study.

‘However, it wouldn’t necessarily be in the interests of Guernsey to have the private sector fund the feasibility study because then the private sector has got control over the entire process.

‘I think to protect our national interests, we need to be in command in terms of commissioning and getting best value for money. If the private sector come up with the cash for the feasibility study, you’ve actually lost the one card you’ve got to play.’

Mr Dorey has had the idea for a while.

He said while he was struggling to engage politicians in Guernsey and Jersey, investors seemed much more keen.

‘We’ve had contact with investor groups who supported the Faroe Islands tunnels and they said: “We’re ready to take this seriously. We’re ready to invest but we need to see the politicians in both islands taking this seriously”.’

They want to see traffic use for the tunnel modelled and government prepared to insure to the predicted traffic flows, before they can commit to finance.

Rising inflation did not make the project less financially-feasible, he said.

‘As long as the ticket prices are linked to inflation, as long as interest rates are less than inflation, then everything’s great,’ he said.