Hemp farm refused permission for lodge

A HEMP farm in St Mary, which is eventually planning to grow medicinal cannabis, has been refused permission to build a caretaker’s lodge on the site.

Jonathan Ruff
Jonathan Ruff

Northern Leaf, which is co-owned by entrepreneur Jonathan Ruff and is based on the former Tamba Park site, submitted the application for the green-zone area in October last year.

The business’ chief operating officer, Kevin Cooper, said that a member of staff was needed on the farm, both to ensure the site was secure and to fix any equipment failures.

But the plans were refused, with some members of the Planning Committee saying that insufficient evidence had been supplied to justify why someone needed to be permanently based there.

Nearby residents also spoke during the meeting, with some questioning why the applicants had not bought or rented property adjacent to the site, which had recently been put on the market.

Mr Cooper said: ‘This whole development has been a proof of concept with serious investment and we have taken advice from people around the world about how to do this in the best way possible.

‘We are at the stage now where we have proven to ourselves and investors that this is a viable business and that we have viable infrastructure to move onto the next stage, which is medicinal cannabis.’

He added: ‘A lot of people are very interested in Jersey and what we are trying to achieve, particularly because Jersey has such a good reputation in the finance industry that a lot of the compliance and regulatory infrastructure can be transferred into the cannabis business.

‘Our vision is for Jersey to be the world-class leader in the production of medicinal hemp.’

Mr Cooper added that the company had previously experienced water and electricity equipment failures on the site which had led to people being called in to make repairs. He said that it therefore made sense for someone to be permanently based there.

He also said that intruders and dog-walkers had been making their way into the site and the caretaker could also act to ensure the site was secure.

However, the committee said it was unable to support developing the green-zone site, as not enough evidence had been provided to justify it.

Deputy Jeremy Maçon said: ‘I do not think we have enough information that actually demonstrates there is a clear need for a property on this site and therefore I do not think the test has been met and therefore an exemption cannot be applied.’ Deputy Graham Truscott and Constable Philip Le Sueur also refused the development.

However, Deputy Scott Wickenden said the business was no different to any other agricultural operation and therefore voted in favour of approving it.

He said: ‘I feel that because this is a bona fide agricultural business and because they have a requirement for staff, that this actually does meet the [green-zone] policy test.’

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