Population increase of 300 a year will guide States planning
THE States will base future planning on the assumption that Guernsey’s population will increase by 300 people each year for 30 years, after a major review of the island’s population and immigration policies was approved yesterday.
The adoption of the policy review, which will itself be reviewed in 2027, also means Home Affairs will draft proposals for the elimination of medium-term employment permits.
The committee’s president, Deputy Rob Prow, thanked all contributors to the debate – including those who had challenged his committee’s proposals – and welcomed the result.
‘It was a very important piece of work,’ he said, ‘which received a lot of praise from the Assembly, so the Home Affairs Committee is very, very pleased that we now have some propositions that can move us forward.’
At the end of three days of debate, the original proposals had been altered by three successful amendments from the eight placed.
These had the effects of committing funding for Environment & Infrastructure to investigate what work would be needed to provide the infrastructure required, instructing Employment & Social Security to look into ways of encouraging greater economic participation, and asking Health & Social Care to work with Policy & Resources to examine steps for creating a compulsory health insurance scheme for new immigrants.
These amended proposals were overwhelmingly supported by members, though there were some concerns.
E&I president Deputy Lindsay De Sausmarez felt unable to support an assumption of 300 extra people being needed in the island, while Deputy Lester Queripel expressed concern, in biblical terms, about the over-development of the island to accommodate ever greater numbers of people.
‘What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul,’ he quoted from St Mark’s gospel.
He warned he would be leaving the island if it continued to be subject to over-development.
Deputy Simon Fairclough referred to concerns about population density in the north of the island and said ‘we ain’t seen nothing yet’.
He warned planning rules would have to change quickly to avoid building homes on sites which, in later years, would be wanted for high-rise developments.
Deputy Marc Leadbeater revealed that he had asked for Guernsey’s membership of the Common Travel Area to be included in the review and argued that the States should be ‘pushing back’ if the CTA’s rules were harming the island’s ability to hire the people needed to solve its economic problems.
All 20 propositions, as amended, were carried, with the closest vote being the annual 300 population increase, which won 22-9.