Guernsey Press

Guernsey urged to take tunnel idea seriously or risk ‘isolation’

Guernsey risks being left behind, economically, if it does not join Jersey in pursuing a tunnel link to France – and may have to seek assistance from the King to prevent that happening.

Could Guernsey be linked to Jersey and France via a tunnel in the future? (33025241)

That’s the stark warning from actuary and Connect 3 Million co-founder Martyn Dorey, who is stepping up a campaign to get islanders on board with the creation of a permanent, sub-sea link.

‘If we don’t take seriously the risk of Jersey pursuing this, we could find ourselves to be quite isolated,’ he told the Business Brief podcast, ‘because Jersey will get all the benefits of the economies of scale, population and GDP growth that we wouldn’t have.’

This would put Guernsey ‘very much on the back foot in the global competitive environment’, he said.

Chamber of Commerce events have been organised – in Jersey today and in Guernsey tomorrow – at which tunnel experts from Norway and the Faroe Islands will be on hand to describe the practicalities, challenges and benefits of fixed links between the islands and mainland Europe.

The Chamber events have proved very popular, in terms of the number of attendees expressing an interest, but whatever the business community’s response might be, the attitude of the islands’ respective governments concerns Mr Dorey.

The States of Jersey’s tourism bosses have gone out of their way to encourage dialogue between tunnel enthusiasts and politicians, he said, but there was no compunction on Jersey to involve Guernsey in any future project.

‘Jersey has been very public in saying they’re only interested in going east,’ he said.

‘There’s more interest in Jersey connecting to France faster, with more force and more resource than what we have in Guernsey at the moment to promote a connection from Guernsey to Jersey.’

The larger island will ‘probably want to move faster on it’, if it comes to the same conclusions about economic benefits as those reached by Connect 3 Million, he warned, and this could lead to Guernsey facing some of the connectivity issues faced by Alderney in recent years.

‘We need to be influencing the debate,’ he said.

‘We need a seat at the table to ensure seamless transport between Guernsey and France. If we’re not joined up and connected at the design stage, we might well end up not being connected at all.’

So what can Guernsey do to ensure Jersey does not turn its back, when it comes to future connectivity plans?

Mr Dorey suggests one route might be to appeal to the highest authority in – or at least, representing – the land.

‘At the end of the day, we’re part of the King’s realm – part of the Duchy of Normandy,’ he said.

‘It may be that it takes the King to say “Look guys, if Guernsey becomes Alderney, it becomes a liability for the Crown. If you work together, you become assets”.’

JT chairwoman Meriel Lenfestey, though not part of the Connect 3 Million group, is sympathetic to its ambition to explore the feasibility of tunnel links more thoroughly and will be attending the Guernsey Chamber event.

Speaking as a fellow guest on the Business Brief podcast, she said it made sense for both governments to ‘play ball and work in parallel’.

‘It would be crazy for a Jersey-France tunnel to be built and then for us to go “Oh, I wish we had one of those”,’ she said.

  • Read more on the tunnel idea in Tuesday’s Guernsey Press and hear more on the latest Business Brief podcast, out today.