A newly-drafted 12-page conservation law has raised questions on whether it could lead to private land being seized and controlled.
Resident Peter Allen voiced his concerns in The Journal to say compulsory purchase was implied in all but name.
‘I would urge everybody to read the draft law for themselves and make up their own mind about it,’ he said.
He is fully on board with protecting wildlife, but said that the law would forcibly change land ownership.
Landowners would have no right to defend their property, he argues.
‘Despite what the States are saying, be aware that it could affect anyone.’
He feared vague legal proposals would provide powers to legislate further and that this could create a new roundabout pathway to deem any land an Area of Enhanced Protection.
The proposal states: ‘In the vast majority of cases, land that is designated an AEP will be owned by the States of Alderney or another public body, or will be designated with the support of the owner of the land.’
Activities which could damage an AEP’s natural features will be regulated, meaning permits may be required to mow lawns, for example.
Under the draft law, following consultation with a panel of selected representatives, called a Scientific Advisory Group, the States can designate AEPs.
Appeals against designation are made to the same panel.
Lack of transparency and public consultation has raised hackles after reportedly only 14 Alderney landowners received letters of notice, at least one of whom lives in the USA.
A States of Alderney spokesperson said: ‘In response to Mr Allen’s article in the 30 October edition of the Journal, there is absolutely no intention to use this legislation as a “land grab” and following feedback from interested parties, the wording of the first draft of the guidance notes (drafting instructions) will be tightened to ensure this is clear in the proposed legislation before it is prepared into a draft Project de Loi.’
Download the proposal visit here.
Landowners to 'have their say'
LANDOWNERS will be able to voice their concerns about a proposed new wildlife law in Alderney.
A meeting will take place before the States of Alderney votes on draft proposals.
Alderney’s Policy & Finance Committee considered proposals for the law in July, having developed an environment policy which was ratified earlier this year.
P&F agreed public consultation should take place before finalising the wildlife law draft, which will then be sent to St James Chambers to be developed into a projet de loi.
‘The progress of the law being drafted will be undertaken with full transparency and public consultation at every stage,’ said a States of Alderney spokesperson.
‘This will include an imminent meeting with landowners to listen to their opinions and concerns in order to inform the guidance notes.’
Initial drafts written by UK lawyers are based on other island jurisdictions, but following public input will be refined.
Before debate the law will be publicly available, including at the People’s Meeting prior to the States meeting at which it will be debated.
Off-island scientists and conservation experts make up the Scientific Advisory Group, the spokesperson said, to advise on issues relating to the legislation, such as designating States-owned Areas of Enhanced Protection or deciding which species to protect.
States of Alderney environmental representative Annie Burgess addressed the issue at Alderney’s People’s Meeting on 4 November. ‘This is simply a drafting guidance document and after the initial stakeholder consultation, it will then go to St James Chambers in Guernsey for drafting. It then goes back to P&F and from there to the general public before it can be voted on. We are seeking and listening to comments, all of which will be noted,’ she said at the meeting.
The existing Bird Protection Alderney Ordinance 2005 is the only wildlife protection law Alderney currently has and much of its content has been incorporated within the drafting guidance.
‘However, it only covers birds. The other mammals, plants and insects that we have on Alderney also deserve our protection. Combining all the wildlife protection under one law just makes sense.’
To express your views on Alderney’s wildlife protection law, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.