Minister: £34m needs to be found to upgrade sewerage

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MONEY to fund a £34m upgrade of the Island’s ageing sewerage will have to be found from somewhere, the Infrastructure Minister has said.

Deputy Tom Binet said he would start talks with the Treasury in the next few days to identify how the recently published Bridging Liquid Waste Strategy would be funded.

He said: ‘I will be discussing with the Treasury Minister the best way of financing this work to prevent major failures in the network, and support our wider aims for housing, and this will need to be considered as part of the upcoming Government Plan process.

‘We are tackling a problem caused by years of historic under-investment so it is not something we can continue to ignore.’

This week, the 220-page strategy was released by the Infrastructure Department. Covering the next four years up to the end of 2026, the report identifies where the Island’s sewerage network needs to be upgraded and extended to avoid ‘catastrophic failures’ in the system.

The investment is needed, it adds, to support new homes and a growing population, which it expects to be 118,000 by 2035.

It identifies schemes to upgrade the infrastructure in key locations including First Tower, the Dicq, Maufant, West Park, Bonne Nuit, St Brelade, Grève de Lecq, Maupertuis, St Peter, Beaumont, Grouville and Le Hocq.

It adds that much of the existing network was built in the 1950s, or earlier, and was designed for a population of half the current 103,000.

The network is already at its limits in a number of areas, it concludes, and therefore needs to be reinforced and upgraded before the flow and load from new homes can be handled.

Without investment in the network, the strategy – which runs up to the end of 2026 – concludes that the Island will be unable to meet its housing goals.

Already, plans to build 179 affordable homes in St Peter are on hold because the drains in the area cannot cope.

An £83.3m new Sewage Treatment Works will open at Bellozanne at the end of this year.

Although it has been built with extra capacity to cope with a predicted rising population, the total flow it can accommodate will be limited by the network’s capacity to deliver sewage to it.

The Bridging Waste Strategy has been aligned with the aims of the Bridging Island Plan, which was passed by the States last year and provides for 4,300 homes to be built by 2025 with a further 3,600 homes required by 2030.

It is ‘bridging’ because Infrastructure plan to develop a full liquid-waste strategy covering 2026 to 2035.

The waste strategy, which has been written by the Infrastructure and Environment Department, states: ‘Clearly, house building on this scale and programme is a challenge in itself in the context of Jersey but the impact of large estates on the existing liquid-waste system with its existing limitations is potentially catastrophic.

‘The locations of these houses have only been identified in the loosest terms to date which means detailed assessments of upgrades and reinforcement works cannot be completed for specific schemes to be included in this Bridging Liquid Waste Strategy.

‘However, the Bridging Island Plan has identified sites to the north and west of the Island, as well as St Helier, as the most likely to proceed in the short term.

‘These are around St Peter and Les Quennevais and this information has been used to identify concept solutions which have been named Emerging Projects.

‘I&E will work with the Planning Team to agree what size of developments need to be allowed for and then the specific local and downstream infrastructure upgrade projects at St Peter, St Brelade and Beaumont will be progressed to suit.’

Deputy Binet said: ‘We know that under the Bridging Island Plan, many thousands of new homes will be built in Jersey over the next few years, and we need to ensure the system can deal with that additional demand.

‘The network that takes liquid waste away from our homes is often taken for granted and only noticed when something goes wrong. The Island has been well served by the current sewerage infrastructure, but it is ageing, and we now need a significant investment for the future of the Island.’

Yesterday, the Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel launched a review into the new strategy.

Chair Deputy Steve Luce said: ‘Recent events have taught us that it is of the utmost importance that we become more resilient as an Island.

‘Our ability to manage the issue of the Island’s liquid waste has a knock-on effect on our ability to not only mitigate against flooding and sewage overspills but also on our ability to deliver much-needed housing for our Island community. This review will help to ensure that the correct strategy is being implemented to deal with this growing problem.’

Deputy Luce added that the panel would aim to present its findings to the States Assembly by September.

Its work will include considering how and to what extent the Bridging Liquid Waste Strategy will provide greater resilience to challenges posed by climate change, such as the floods experienced in Grands Vaux earlier this year.

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