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Minister moves to protect strip of duneland in St Ouen’s Bay

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ENVIRONMENT Minister John Young has started the process of reclassifying an unspoilt strip of coastal land in St Ouen’s Bay as a Site of Special Interest after a bid from the National Trust for Jersey to buy the site was rejected in favour of a private buyer.

National Trust for Jersey chief executive Charles Alluto at the site, which was recently sold to a private bidder. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON (21915755)

Environment Minister John Young has instructed the Planning Department to begin the process of designating the land – Mielles du Sud, which sits between Le Braye Café and El Tico – as an SSI.

He did so in response to a request from National Trust chief executive Charles Alluto that the minister should act to protect the many species of wildlife, flora and fauna found at the site, which is equivalent in size to five football pitches.

Mr Alluto made the call after learning that the trust’s £260,020 bid for the site, which was put up for sale by owners the Simon family, had failed. The charity raised the money via a public campaign, to which 70 Islanders pledged donations over a period of ten days.

The land had been valued at between £200,000 and £250,000 and the size of the successful bid is not known.

‘I have told the officers to get on with protecting Mielles du Sud,’ Deputy Young said. ‘It is currently a proposed SSI, but the case for formal designation is overwhelming.

‘My intention is to serve a 28-day notice on the current or new owner, which will allow them to make representation and they also have the right to appeal [against] the designation.’

The listing process is part of the Island’s Planning and Building Law to protect and conserve places ‘by reason of their special botanical, ecological, geological, scientific or zoological interest’.

Deputy Young says Mielles du Sud also met the requirements for protection under international environmental conventions and the Island’s wildlife protection law. It comprises sand dunes, salt marsh land and beach shingle deposits and is home to 125 species of beetles and bugs. It also provides habitats for green lizards, rare birds such as the skylark, shrews and bank voles. Plants found there include rock samphire, sea holly and Alderney sea lavender.

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‘It more than meets the criteria to be designated as an SSI,’ he said. ‘There will also have to be a management statement drawn up by the Environment Department to conserve and enhance the site.’

The statement will dictate what the landowner can and cannot do there. It is understood that any activity that has an adverse impact on the area’s special features will be forbidden.

Such activities include metal detecting, disturbing, ill-treating or killing a wild creature, picking or destroying plant life, digging holes, removing sand or ground and using it to dispose of waste.

Permitted activities include camping and hosting events, but only up to six times a year. Any events held at the site must comply with the management statement.

The coastal strip in St Ouen’s Bay is already subject to strict planning rules as it is part of the Coastal National Park, where there is a presumption against any form of new development.

Maillard’s Estates, which handled the sale for the Simon family, who operate the sand works on the other side of the Five Mile Road, have previously said that the land was marketed in the knowledge that its uses would be restricted.

Paula Thelwell

By Paula Thelwell
author

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