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Town referendum on household waste charges?

News | Published:

  • Transport Minister is considering a user-pays charge for household waste
  • To do so, a covenant agreement with St Helier must be lifted
  • It would require support of parishioners - with a referendum a possibility
  • Should charges for waste disposal be means-tested?

ST Helier parishioners may be asked to vote in a referendum on whether to lift a decades-old agreement which prevents residents being charged for disposing of household waste.

Transport Minister Eddie Noel has said that he is considering introducing a user-pays charge on waste disposal and is looking to see whether a covenant agreement with the parish could be lifted.

However, St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft has said that any decision on whether to lift the agreement would have to be made by the rate payers and that he would consider holding a parish referendum on the topic.

La Collette fuel farm
  • The plant cost £110m to build, making it Jersey’s largest ever capital expenditure.
  • It is able to burn 110,000 tons a year.
  • There are 5,173 plants on the bank screening the building from Havre des Pas and St Clement in the east.
  • Waste that was burned in the past is now heated at 850 degrees for a minimum of two seconds
  • The fire water tank outside the main building contains 1,000,050 litres of water and takes eight hours to fill.
  • In 2011 it was reported that Jersey had a 30% recycling rate, which it hopes to increase to 36% by 2018.
  • The incinerator produces around 7% of Jersey’s electricity usage and more than double the renewable power generated from waste in the Island.

He added that he believed parishioners would be unlikely to agree to removing the agreement if it meant that a charge could be levied on waste disposal.

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Currently, waste disposals are paid for by taxes and Deputy Noel has said that a user-pays charge on commercial and domestic waste would encourage more Islanders to recycle.

The minister has said that any charge on waste disposal could not be introduced until the covenant agreement - which was put in place following the transfer of parish land to the States for waste management - is removed.

'It would be something that I would want to put to rates payers via a referendum and we would need to know exactly what the proposals are. If a significant amount of money is put on the table then that may persuade rates payers.

'The parish assembly is the decision making body, but we have 18,000 voters in St Helier and it would be up to them to decide. You could not do that at a parish meeting so you would have to have a binding referendum.

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'It is a covenant in St Helier's favour but as a parish, we bear the brunt of these kind of processes.'

The States recently agreed to an amendment to the Strategic Plan which would see the government pay rates on its buildings - a move which would put hundreds of thousands of pounds into St Helier parish funds.

And Mr Crowcroft is concerned that the Council of Ministers may use that as a bargaining tool in a bid to remove the agreement.

He added: 'The States has a problem paying for its waste disposal and the minister is obviously exploring ways to deal with that.

'It is not beyond the realms of possibility that the Council of Ministers may say that they agree to pay rates for their building if we lift the agreement.

'I would oppose that - the argument about the States paying rates has effectively been won and they can't start putting conditions on that.'

During a Scrutiny Panel hearing last week, Deputy Noel revealed that he was seeking legal advice as to whether the covenant could be lifted.

Debra d'Orleans, director of municipal services for St Helier, and Phil Hague, refuse street cleansing and recycling manager for the parish, at the Convent Court bin site

A COMMUNAL bin site in St Helier which was earmarked for closure because of fly-tipping is to be kept open after a plea from residents.

The facility at Convent Court could instead be monitored by CCTV. Residents living near the site were concerned when they were told that the Euro bins were to be removed.

The parish provides the bins for recycling and household waste. Parish workers who clear the site every morning have been faced with all sorts of fly-tipping, from discarded beds, sofas and building materials to bags of rubbish dumped around the bins on a daily basis.

St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft said it had led to more work and cost for the parish, so a decision was taken to close the site.

However, discussions were then held with residents who use the site about possible alternative arrangements. And on realising there was no possibility to provide an alternative for some tenants due to a lack of space, a decision was made to keep the facility.

'We intend to ramp up our enforcement against fly-tipping, which is completely illegal, and throw the book at people who abuse the facilities, which are provided by the parish for our ratepayers,' he said.

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