St Ouen’s Bay in danger, warns environmentalist
THE fragile eco-system of St Ouen’s Bay is being put at risk by political indifference and a minority of irresponsible Islanders who lack respect for the vitally important area, a leading environmentalist has warned.
Mike Stentiford said dog owners who are leaving the area littered with their pets’ faeces, motorists who try to drive ‘off road’ where vehicles have been banned since the 1970s and mobile-home owners who have taken over the car park at Le Port are all blighting the bay.
And he says that indifference shown by politicians who focus on other issues facing the Island is compounding the problems.
Mr Stentiford has dedicated more than half his life to conserving the area. Forty years ago he was part of a publicly funded project to restore neglected areas of the sand dunes, and to turn a waste dump into the Mielle de Morville nature reserve, after the States agreed to protect land between L’Etacq and La Pulente to form Les Mielles Country Park.
He said: ‘The messages that have been given out for years don’t seem to be getting through to people anymore and I hope if we can help people to understand why St Ouen’s Bay is so special then perhaps they will show it more respect.
‘There has not been any foresight from the politicians whose time is taken up by many other big issues but there is no bigger issue than the environment and, in particular, climate change.
‘In 1978, the States put a special status on St Ouen’s Bay as they recognised it was incredibly important for so many reasons but now the area is becoming a victim of its own success. If you ask people what is their favourite place in Jersey they will say St Ouen.’
Mr Stentiford’s involvement today is focused on promoting the Jersey National Park and the outcome of a bid for government funding for the next four years.
The States agreed to set up the park in 2011 with St Ouen’s Bay at its heart. However, it covers more than 11,200 vergées around Jersey’s coastline from the bay and along the north coast, taking in the inland valleys at Grève de Lecq, Mourier Valley and Rozel to the Royal Bay, Grouville and Grouville Marsh. It also includes the Paternosters, Ecréhous and Minquiers offshore reefs.
Former CI Co-op chief executive Jim Hopley is chairman of the Jersey National Park and Mr Stentiford acts as secretary. If government funding is forthcoming they hope to appoint a part-time co-ordinator to be based at the Frances Le Sueur Centre at Mielle de Morville, which will be used to promote the national park and for educational activities.
He said: ‘Some say I am over-protective and over-sensitive about what is happening in the bay, but it is only because I was involved 40 years ago.
‘I get so annoyed when I see areas of St Ouen’s Bay being neglected and some parts of the coastal strip are really run down. That is not a very good advert for the Island.’