Guernsey Press

Chief Pleas agrees to spend £175,000 on new electric grid project

Sark Chief Pleas has agreed to spend £175,000 on working up designs for a new electricity grid.

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(Picture by Brian Green, 32894236)

The funding for electrical infrastructure will allow an investigation into the feasibility of installing a new grid for the island plus renewable energy from solar and onshore wind at a cost of £8.6m.

Speaking before the vote, Policy and Finance Committee chair John Guille said they could not ‘simply do nothing’.

‘For a long time the lack of investment in electricity infrastructure on the island has been apparent,’ he said.

‘We’ve had two independent reports which have highlighted serious concerns about reliability, and most importantly, safety.’

Sark currently has 17 conseillers but only 11 were able to attend the meeting. Ten of those present voted in favour of funding the design, with one ‘no vote’.

Douzaine chairman Conseiller Frank Makepeace was unable to make the meeting, but said he too would have voted in favour of the proposition.

‘I think the general feeling is that the island has to do something to guarantee a supply of electricity,’ he said. ‘The current set up with Sark Electricity is too problematic.’

The island’s current power supply comes from Sark Electricity Ltd. Its managing director, Alan Witney-Price, has previously called the plans ‘nonsensical’ and said they would lead to higher electricity prices for islanders.

At the meeting Conseiller Marcus Barker said the island ‘could not sustain two electricity companies’ and asked P&F what its plans were for SEL.

Conseiller Guille replied that Chief Pleas had approached the company before but had been put off by a £2.7m. asking price and ‘insufficient proof of ownership.’

He added that it would still consider purchasing the assets at a ‘fair price’, but compulsory purchase of the company remained an option.

This week’s meeting also approved plans for a new consultation on reform and refining the island’s tax system.

The tax consultation will ask Sark residents for their thoughts on proposals for new taxes, including levies on introduced on tourists, derelict buildings, seasonal workers, property sales, and the creation of new tax bands that would see those spending less time on Sark playing more tax.

The highest new band would be for residents who cannot prove that they have physically been on Sark for 90 days in the year.

The rate for these individuals could increase the minimum rate by 2,000% with a minimum personal tax of £10,500.

Currently, there is no income or inheritance tax on Sark and the committee has ruled out introducing them.