P&R could axe Meerveld from offshore wind body
POLICY & RESOURCES is expected to discuss whether to sack Deputy Carl Meerveld as the chairman of its offshore wind group when it meets today.
The senior committee is furious with Deputy Meerveld for claiming that exporting wind power from Guernsey to Europe could raise enough income to make a goods and services tax unnecessary.
It has accused him of causing ‘a damaging distraction’ by promoting ‘unwelcome, unsubstantiated conjecture’ just weeks ahead of its third attempt to get GST and other tax changes through the States.
P&R refused to be drawn yesterday on Deputy Meerveld’s future. But a source close to the fall-out between them told the Guernsey Press that he would be fortunate to remain in his role leading investigations into how to turn the island’s sea bed into a profitable industry.
Deputy Meerveld was unrepentant on the eve of P&R’s meeting. He insisted a wind farm ‘would generate billions of pounds of inward investment into Guernsey’ and criticised P&R for not being more enthusiastic about it as a credible alternative to GST.
‘The project can generate as much or more revenue than GST and potentially as soon, bearing in mind that GST would take two or three years to implement, and any decision to implement is likely to be overturned by the next Assembly,’ he said.
‘We must explore all possible opportunities to raise revenue before considering imposing large tax increases on our financially-strained population and increasing the cost of living in our Bailiwick.
‘P&R is dogmatically pursuing GST and appears not to want to discuss any alternatives that may undermine their insistence on introducing GST.
‘P&R would have us believe that revenue from leasing the seabed for a wind farm only comes after it is operational, many years from now, but that is not true. Significant payments fall due immediately after an agreement is signed to explore the opportunity to build a wind farm.’
The senior committee has claimed that there is little prospect of generating meaningful income from wind power in the near future. But Deputy Meerveld said it was misleading people and said he is sure that it could produce a ‘significant revenue stream’ before the end of the political term in June 2025.
Deputy Meerveld said that his working party, appointed by P&R last year, had received offers from companies willing to invest millions of pounds at their own risk to develop a wind farm off the coast of Guernsey.
He said he was speaking out on the wind farm project ‘because the public have the right to know that alternative revenue-raising opportunities exist’.