New policy for foreshore ‘lacks clarity’

THE latest policy governing encroachments on the foreshore is fundamentally flawed and lacking in essential detail, a Scrutiny panel has found.

St Brelade Constable Mike Jackson                                                             Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30028527)
St Brelade Constable Mike Jackson Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30028527)

In a critical review published yesterday, the Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Panel called for Infrastructure Minister Kevin Lewis to bring forward a new policy to replace the one due to be debated in the States next week.

Panel chairman Constable Mike Jackson said that while they did not question the need for a clear and transparent policy, the one proposed by the minister was neither clear nor transparent.

‘There is a unanimous view shared among those who contributed to the review that it is an unfair and discriminatory approach.

‘As it stands, there are essential elements omitted from the proposed revised policy and, as a panel, we urge the minister to reflect on our findings and recommendations and bring forward a revised policy which reflects a more clear and fair approach,’ Mr Jackson said.

Publication of the Scrutiny review is the latest setback for Infrastructure Minister Kevin Lewis, who inherited the foreshore controversy from his predecessor, former Deputy Eddie Noel. It followed the gift of the foreshore to the public of the Island by the Crown more than five years ago.

In September 2015, a matter of months after the land passed into the administration of Jersey Property Holdings, landowners seeking to sell their properties received demands for compensation for encroachments which were previously accepted when the Crown was landowner.

That approach is criticised in the Scrutiny report, following similar criticisms from the States Complaints Board, former Bailiff Sir Philip Bailhache and Grouville Deputy Carolyn Labey, who has campaigned against the approach taken by government.

Deputy Labey has lodged her own revised policy governing foreshore encroachments as an amendment to the government’s policy, which is due to be debated next Tuesday.

The Scrutiny review is strongly critical of the lack of clarity over where the boundary between public and private land lies.

‘As [this] is crucial for understanding whether an encroachment of the foreshore had occurred or would occur in the future, it is the panel’s view that this continued uncertainty is particularly concerning,’ the panel said, calling for the minister to make public a map clarifying the position.

Although the panel accepted that the minister should be able to defend and maintain the Island’s sea defences, it found that there was insufficient evidence that any encroachments had compromised his ability to do so.

The panel called instead for a separate policy to govern sea defences, with the option to introduce planning obligation agreements to help ensure that seawalls were properly maintained if encroachments had taken place.

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