Fixed link to Jersey and France is unachievable
THE contemplated CI - France fixed link is a non-starter. While the engineering side of the project is deemed feasible, according to the engineering firm Ramboll and based on the current Fehmarn Belt project (Guernsey Press article of 14 August 2019), nothing else is comparable.
The stretch of water between Germany (Fehmarn) and Denmark (Lolland) is 10 miles, and the estimated cost for the ‘Belt’ is 8.7 billion euros. The estimated cost of linking Guernsey to Jersey and to France could therefore exceed 43 billion euros for this 50 mile link, excluding the additional terminals required in Jersey (to/from Guernsey and to/from France), and possibly an artificial island. How will this be financed? If this gigantic infrastructure is ever built, the link toll required to provide maintenance and a return on investment would be unaffordable for most islands’ travellers.
The economics are very different, too. The Fehmarn Belt is financed through the governments of Germany and Denmark and benefits both countries equally in terms of transit, transport, business and tourism. It is at mid distance between Hamburg (Germany) and Copenhagen (Denmark), 150km either way. By comparison, the CI - France fixed link would be a dead end for the French. Given the islands would continue to deal with their UK suppliers, how much additional trade could the French expect to achieve through the fixed link, with no transit to a wider market? How many billion euros would the French government and private finance be willing to sink (literally) in this CI - France fixed link to reach a CI population of only 160,000 people – about the same population as Le Havre in Normandy?
There is no synergy between Normandy’s economy (fishing, cattle raising and tourism) and that of the Channel Isles (mainly finance). The French government has always regarded the islands as tax havens, and dislikes this anti-socialist and wealthy economy on their doorstep. The French would certainly leverage their size and power in any negotiations with the islands regarding a fixed link, and seek to influence or interfere with the islands’ independence and sovereignty. No long-term arrangement could be relied on as (French) politicians and governments change all the time – and we would always be at the mercy of French strikes and blockades, a way of life with our neighbour – it’s in their DNA.
Most importantly, the above utopian project does not address any of our island priorities: reducing our traffic congestion, protecting our low-lying areas from rising sea levels, and achieving more self-sufficiency in power generation of a greener kind, to name just three priorities. Yet, these priorities, and more, are incorporated in the Belle Greve scheme, with a figure of £350m. mentioned. HydroPort Guernsey have been working on and improving this scheme for two years, and made presentations to the States (see Guernsey Press article of 12 July 2019). This scheme would benefit the island solely and directly, and would be an engineering project comparable in scope with the development of St Peter Port harbour of around 1853. Why are our politicians shelving this affordable project with real, quantifiable benefits for the island’s whole community, which the sinking fixed link to Jersey and France will never achieve?