Government accused of complicity in ‘destruction’ of bay’s duneland
THE government has been accused of failing the Island and being complicit in the ‘destruction of our duneland’ at the heart of St Ouen’s Bay in a stinging open letter from the National Trust for Jersey published in today’s JEP.
The organisation’s chief executive, Charles Alluto, says that for more than two decades various governments and politicians have ‘side-stepped’ the issue of coming up with plans to facilitate the importation of sand to support the construction industry, rather than quarrying it from the Jersey National Park.
Simon Sand and Gravel Ltd currently have the contract to quarry sand in an area that has grown to 158 vergées between the Five Mile Road and the bottom of Mont à la Brune. The site includes open water of a similar size to St Ouen’s Pond.
A 15-year exit strategy was agreed in 2003 with the aim of finding a more environmentally friendly long-term solution to supply sand, largely for the construction industry. Planning approval required the company to have a restoration and after-care strategy in place by 2016, but it failed to meet that deadline.
In a letter, which is published in full on page 12 of today’s JEP, Mr Alluto says that in Britain £4 million from the National Heritage Lottery Fund had been set aside to restore a third of its dune sites because of international recognition that they are ‘one of the most threatened and valuable ecological habitats in Europe’.
‘Meanwhile Jersey, as opposed to anywhere else in the British Isles, (The Isle of Man recently ceased dune sand extraction) continues to actively destroy and drown its dunelands, because importation has simply ended up on our government’s too difficult pile,’ the letter says.
Over 20 years ago the States agreed to support an environmentally friendly strategy that favoured importing aggregate materials rather than continuing to quarry local rock and sand in the long term.
But a key component of this approach – creating facilities to offload aggregates at the fuel berth at La Collette – has yet to materialise.
Former Environment Minister Steve Luce said the owner of Simon Sand, Jason Simon, asked if the permit could be extended as a reduced demand for sand – attributed to the recession of the late 2000s – meant there were reserves to quarry.
This extension was approved in August last year on the condition that work stops on 31 December 2023 and the restoration of the area must be completed by 31 December 2025.