The Vice-President of Policy & Resources has responded to concerns raised by the St Sampson's Douzaine, which said the States' inaction over infrastructure planning could lead to "economic and environmental disaster".
The parish published an impact statement earlier this week, slamming the States lack of foresight. It cited numerous examples of government failure and demanded a meaningful island infrastructure plan, something the States agreed to create in 2009.
Pictured: There are several issues raised within the impact statement published by the parish.
Deputy Heidi Soulsby replied directly to Mr Gill, but failed to address the demands for an infrastructure plan.
Instead she focused on four issues and government failings raised in the impact statement - Leale's Yard, quarrying, oil & gas, and storm defences.
Leale’s Yard remains derelict despite a development framework being developed for the site last year. Mr Gill criticised "an absence of government consensus of how to move this forward".
The response didn’t give any definitive answer on when we can expect movement on the project, suggesting instead that it may not happen until the taxpayer has put its hand in its pocket and ‘taken the risk’, which implies government subsidies to the Co-op.
Pictured: The Co-op bought the Leales Yard site more than 10 years ago.
Concerns about an absence of a ‘roadmap’ for St Sampsons Harbour were tackled with reference to the Future Harbours policy debate.
“In respect of oil and fuel and the wider harbours infrastructure, the States debated the Future Harbours policy letter in June 2021, the outcome of which is to establish a development agency which can consider a pool marina, the wider configuration for harbours, and work with the States on the enhancement of the seafront and coast,” said Deputy Soulsby, suggesting this will help provide the roadmap.
Deputy Soulsby said P&R shared concerns about a lack of priority for sea defences and that decisions for quarrying had been “delayed for far too long.”
“In short, this States will have a very different approach to the island’s strategic infrastructure.
“We will be prepared to roll up our sleeves and take decisions; and enable the private sector as well as States’ trading entities to get on and get things done,” said Deputy Soulsby.
The letter did not address concerns in the impact statement item by item, including dangers surrounding the scrap metal yard, the threat of sea levels rising, an absence of any infrastructure plan for traffic, and the continued use of tarmac, concrete and steel instead of traditional building materials.
You can read the full response below:
Dear Mr Gill
INFRASTRUCTURE IN ST SAMPSON’S
I refer to our meeting on 13th May, 2021, regarding the above matter. Apologies for the delay in replying.
I can advise that in respect of Leale’s Yard, there is Government consensus on how to move this forward, but there are multiple parties involved outside of the States, and a number of commercial decisions to be taken for developers and builders, as opposed to the States. It is right that those discussions happen away from the public domain, but there is a determination from the Policy & Resources Committee to enable this development to go forward, and to play the right role – as Government – in doing that. It may well be that parties are advising the Douzaine that nothing can happen until the taxpayer – through Government – has put its hand in its pocket and taken the risk. However, that is not the only solution, and, in any event, would need very careful consideration as to whether this was the best use of taxpayers’ money at this time.
In respect of oil and fuel and the wider harbours infrastructure, the States debated the Future Harbours policy letter in June 2021, the outcome of which is to establish a development agency which can consider a pool marina, the wider configuration for harbours, and work with the States on the enhancement of the seafront and coast. This work, combined with the Energy Policy agreed by the States in 2020 which sets out a plan for decarbonisation, will provide the roadmap in respect of oil and fuel delivery storage. Work on that issue is, in fact, ongoing, and the Douzaine’s comments will be included as part of that work.
The Committee does share concerns over the lack of priority that the States has previously given to work on coastal defences. We have supported the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure in providing additional resources to accelerate this work, and we have designated that the States must consider this a priority in its work plan.
In respect of quarrying, the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure has brought a policy letter for debate by the States at its meeting in October 2021. Depending on the decisions taken at that debate, further policy letters will follow. These matters have been prioritised in order to resolve them, as the decisions have been delayed for far too long.
In short, this States will have a very different approach to the island’s strategic infrastructure. We will be prepared to roll up our sleeves and take decisions; and enable the private sector as well as States’ trading entities to get on and get things done.
Deputy Heidi Soulsby Vice-President
Policy & Resources Committee
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