A re-vote, which allowed a Deputy whose technology failed during the original vote a second bite of the cherry, means that the requete calling for the removal of part of the L'Ancresse wall to be halted, has been successful, after originally losing on a tied vote.
The States first vote on the requete, calling for a 10-year suspension of the previously-agreed removal of 130m of the wall and the subsequent realignment of the bay, ended 18-18.
That meant it lost as under States rules the requerants need to find the support of the majority of the house, which they had failed to do.
During that first vote, Deputy John Gollop did not answer on Microsoft Teams when called, and neither of his proxy voters had written confirmation of how he wished to vote.
However, just as the result was announced, it emerged that Deputy Gollop had messaged his proxies during the vote over Whatsapp, and had also messaged through Microsoft Teams saying that he was listening to the debate, but that a technical issue had prevented him from being able to answer when he was called.
This led to some debate over whether it was too late to register Deputy Gollop's vote. Deputy Matt Fallaize, despite opposing the requete, raised that there was a provision within States rules allowing for a vote to be challenged, which in effect allows for a re-vote to be cast if there is justification for doing so.
Sir Richard Collas invoked this rule to hold a second and final vote, which saw the requete succeed by 19-18 after Deputy Gollop voted in favour of .
Explaining his decision, the Bailiff said: "Because Deputy Gollop was in the meeting and it was a technical failure rather than anything else I will allow it."
Environment & Infrastructure President Barry Brehaut accepted the defeat graciously, saying he was content with the circumstances in which Deputy Gollop had been permitted to vote.
Deputy Lyndon Trott was perturbed by the ruling, and wanted Sir Richard to accept that he had set a precedent that would now have to be "consistently applied" in the future.
The vote on the Requête seeking to suspend the carrying out of works on the anti-tank wall at L’Ancresse was taken and the propositions were approved.— States of Guernsey (@Govgg) April 23, 2020
Lead requerant Deputy Al Brouard delivered a forceful speech setting out his opposition to the scheme hen he opened the debate this morning, where he branded the removal of part of the wall an “experiment based on wishful thing” which would leave L'ancresse common vulnerable to flooding and the adjacent road’s properties at increased risk in the event on a freak storm.
He also challenged the States’ right to impose changes in the area since the land is managed by the Vale Commons Council.
“We have set up the Vale Commons Council to manage this land, they are mandated by us to do so through the Royal Court and they do not want to see this area flooded or the wall removed.
“When those charged with its safe keeping want the wall retained and the land preserved, what legal and moral right do Environment and Infrastructure have to remove the wall…it is not the States of Guernsey’s land to flood.”
Pictured: Deputy Brouard said E&I was proposing, environmentally, to destroy a very rare coastal grassland in favour of a “slightly rarer” dune habitat if the realignment of the bay works as planned.
E&I member Deputy Sarah Hansmann-Rouxel objected to these comments, which she said misled the States, and that comments such as “E&I wishing to destroy the common” were irresponsible and wrong.
E&I member Lindsay de Sausmarez said an environmentalist had been in touch with her last night unhappy with Deputy Brouard’s remarks.
“The beauty of this [virtual States meeting] is that we can see the armchair experts, because they are literally sat in their armchairs.”
E&I President Barry Brehaut also rallied against Deputy Brouard’s “pseudo-science”, which he said it was easy for him to spout when the experts from consultants Royal Haskoning were not there to respond to his claims.
Deputy Brehaut said consultation on the project had always been done in a “diligent, thorough and informed manner” and said Deputy Brouard appeared to have missed the point of the proposed work.
“This is about reinstating the bay and removing a small section of the wall allows you to do that.”
He said the States should invest now when the construction industry is looking for work, rather than waiting ten years to pay more and also risk a failure of the wall in the meantime, which would end up much more expensive.
Pictured: Although the removal of a 130m section of the wall has been led by Deputy Brehaut’s committee, it was agreed by the States as an Assembly in 2017.
E&I was backed by P&R President Gavin St Pier, who drew attention to the lead consultancy firm’s significant background of experience in sustainable coastal solutions. That same trust of consultants was not shared by everyone, with Deputy Neil Inder saying that consultants are not always right and others also saying that experience in the UK is different to local experience.
Concluding his speech, Deputy Brouard was also wary of embarking on a "gamble", favouring a "make do and mend" mentality.
“While other places are increasing their coastal defences, we are taking down ours and paying one million for the privilege of an experiment.”
Pictured top: L'Ancresse wall during a storm (Credit: Gary Blanchford).
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