Investment and perceived under-investment in coastal infrastructure was at the heart of a flurry of questions to the President of Environment & Infrastructure.
Deputy Simon Vermeulen fired a torrent of questions to Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez about investment in infrastructure at the latest States meeting.
“What progress if any has E&I made since last month on progressing any of the much needed and urgently required repairs to our infrastructure,” asked Deputy Vermeulen, "given that P&R, together with the public, have clearly indicated a need for rapid and effective action?”
Several preparations and actions were touched on in Deputy de Sausmarez’s response, including the hiring of a company to consult on the Fermain wall and tenders for the Clarence Battery and the Zig-Zag path opposite Octopus.
She also spoke about the drafting of tender documents for the bathing pools, and said work is being done to prioritise other future projects.
“Preparations for our proactive work on our coastal defence infrastructure are progressing well,” she said.
“Four sea walls are prioritised for major repointing works in 2021: Havelet, Catioroc to Perelle, St George’s Esplanade and Grand Port.”
Pictured: Deputy Vermeulen took issue with the seven years it has taken for a tender document to be successful for the Fermain repairs.
Deputy de Sausmarez was pushed for an answer on who exactly would be undertaking the work at Fermain, or if there was even anyone in mind. To which she replied “it’s a multi-phased approach”, emphasising that consultation and recommendation must come first, before a construction firm is chosen.
The Douit de Moulin slipway became the next talking point, part of which collapsed at the end of last year. Deputy de Sausmarez reassured the assembly that work had already begun on fixing the slipway, with it set to finish by the end of May.
She was then asked by Deputy Andrea Dudley Owen how the work on Douit de Moulin would be undertaken, and what would happen to the granite taken away.
The E&I President said that much of the large granite has been taken away and stored for future use, and it’ll be constructed through a hybrid process with concrete and stone. Deputy de Sausmarez was then asked to assure members that it simply wouldn’t be a case of just “pouring concrete in a hole”, in response to a question from Deputy Andrew Taylor.
Pictured: Douit de Moulin repairs are projected to cost up to £65,000.
Deputy Vermeulen continued to grill the E&I President on perceived failures of previous committees to “effect any coastal repair work at any discernible pace”, asking what steps were being made to correct this.
Deputy de Sausmarez referred to extensive capital expenditure at Bulwer Avenue, Vazon, Longstore, Admiral Park and continued proactive maintenance on various coastal defences.
"If this work hadn’t been carried out, the impact would have been very discernible indeed," she said.
"Since 2016, around £5m has been spent on maintenance of coastal defence infrastructure, but historic underinvestment prior to that has resulted in the current situation where there is more work needed than there are funds available.
"Expenditure must be prioritised, and greatest priority has had to be given to sea defences that protect key infrastructure such as roads, sewers and cables that would be damaged if the defence failed.
"It is no coincidence that the areas Deputy Vermuelen highlights are not coastal defences but features like slipways, military structures, steps and paths, which inevitably score much lower than sea walls, and therefore don’t do as well in any capital prioritisation process."
The round of questioning was tied up after one final query from Deputy Vermeulen, who made a surprising enquiry about centralisation.
“Would E&I consider transferring all of its infrastructure and maintenance and repair responsibilities to P&R?”
Deputy de Sausmarez said it was not for E&I to answer this: "E&I is fully committed to and engaged in delivering on its mandate, which does not include a review of the machinery of government.
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