Guernsey Press

P&R refuses to reveal cost of Herm lease extension

POLICY & RESOURCES has used special exemptions to avoid revealing whether the States received any money from Herm’s tenant in return for extending its lease by 21 years.

(Picture by Peter Frankland, 32186643)

The Guernsey Press revealed in March that in 2017 the Starboard Settlement Charitable Trust’s lease for the island was extended from 2048 to 2069. But the costs were not revealed then.

A freedom of information request was subsequently submitted to the States by a third party in a bid to get the amount revealed.

P&R said it still did not need to release the information under an exemption clause relating to the effective management and operation of the States and the commercial confidence of third parties.

More information about these grounds for refusing to provide information are set out in a document containing guidance on how to use the States’ regime for accessing public information.

Under the ground of effective management and operations of the public service, information can be withheld if the disclosure could lead to improper gain, would prejudice the competitive position or commercial interests of the States, affect negotiations or harm operations.

The third party commercial confidences clause allows information to be withheld if the unwarranted disclosure would harm the competitive position of a third party or if a third party has requested confidentiality as part of a contract or agreement.

The States has owned the island since 1949. It was then leased to the Wood family, who ran the island from 1949.

Starboard Settlement took on the lease in 2008.

A decade ago, the value to the tenant of a 21-year extension of the lease was estimated by the then-Treasury & Resources Department to be in the region of £6m., although this was later revised to £2.44m. with certain conditions.