Environmental issues ignored by hotel developers

HAVING viewed the front page of the Guernsey Press of August 20 [Grande Mare hotel plans hit by Planning delays], I waited in anticipation for Rob Batiste’s salvo the following Saturday. I wasn’t disappointed. I was, however, saddened that such attitudes exists. It would seem that Rob’s view is, if it is green then everything is fine. Rob needs to explain what he means by the following remark: ‘The island’s current devotion to fauna, insects and microlife is out of control’. Perhaps he could tell us what he means by ‘microlife’ and why the flora of the area was not mentioned in his piece? Has he looked at the issue and tried to understand what concerns conservationists? Rob assured us that LGM ‘when you get away from the coastline, is still stunning in terms of wildlife.’ Maybe he could detail the species that he is seeing? By the way, black swan, pheasant, feral greylag geese and mallard do not count. He also needs to explain how the ‘improvement’ of LGM equates with Guernsey having lost 98% of its unimproved and semi-improved grassland. LGM no longer holds nesting skylark or meadow pipit and the increased drainage has resulted in the loss of much of the flora and has had a severe affect on insect populations. When LGM was given the go-ahead, two wet meadows were set aside to appease the conservationists (a very small part of the whole). These are flora-rich and are classified as SSS (sites of special scientific interest). One of these fields has been left to deteriorate and at present coarser plants are smothering the species of orchid it holds. This field, with careful management, could be returned to its former glory. Westward Investments has applied for this field to be used to extend the golf course. The very lack of management by owners in the past is now being used as a lever to obtain planning permission. An area elsewhere has been earmarked to create a meadow using a scheme that totally ignores the fact that orchids have specific needs, including a symbiotic relationship with soil-borne fungus. This proposed scheme does not take into account these complexities and has absolutely no guarantee of success. Will Green’s article of the 20th made no mention of the environmental issues and basically gave developers a chance to attack the planning department yet again. Brian Singleton, of the Guernsey Building Trades Employers Association, made various comments, including, ‘The DPA has a responsibility to engage with developers in an efficient and timely manner’. Silly me, I hadn’t realised the planning department was there solely to aid builders and developers.

Right from the outset the developers have been keen to avoid the need for an Environmental Impact Assessment. If the proposed plans are approved as they are and a SSS is destroyed then the Strategy for Nature (which Planning has adopted) is dead in the water. The editorial in the GP of Monday 30 August once again shows the GP is supporting this project, there has been no attempt to explain the environmental concerns and the GP coverage appears far from neutral. I finish by saying it is heartening that Botswana has wildlife protection laws, Guernsey in contrast does not have any species or habitat protection laws. If only we had the ‘big five’.

TREVOR BOURGAIZE

trevor.bourgaize@gmail.com

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