Sark’s government - known as Chief Pleas - has unanimously supported a proposal to legislate for the compulsory purchase of Sark Electricity Limited and could ask the States of Guernsey to help pay for it.
Chief Pleas hope their purchase of Sark Electricity could be concluded by the summer of 2022. But the current owner of the private company is sceptical that it will happen anytime soon.
A compulsory purchase letter drafted by the Law Officers was taken to Chief Pleas by their Policy & Finance Committee alongside a damning independent report into the island’s electricity infrastructure.
The proposal for Chief Pleas to take over the company without the current owner's permission followed repeated price hikes to alleviate the company’s losses and expert advice that millions of pounds' worth of investment is required to update equipment said to be a serious safety risk.
The Policy & Finance Committee has also accused the owner of Sark Electricity of not making himself available for discussions, which it said had increased concerns about the security of the supply of electricity in the island.
Having unanimously backed the proposal to take control of the company, Chief Pleas now need to establish how much it will cost and where the money will come from. They may need to borrow the money or ask for help from the States of Guernsey.
Pictured: The dispute between Chief Pleas and Sark Electricity came to a head earlier this year when the company threatened to stop trading.
The owner of Sark Electricity , Alan Witney-Price, refutes many of the concerns raised about his company and says he has been in frequent communication with the Policy & Finance Committee.
“Our constant request has been that a group of mutually acceptable Conseillers of Chief Pleas oversee the negotiations on Sark’s behalf,” wrote Mr Witney-Price in an open letter to Chief Pleas also sent to the media.
He said that any negotiations about compulsory purchase of the company must take place in “good faith” and that this is not possible unless Sark changes its negotiation team.
“The Policy & Finance Committee are simply not viewed by Sark Electricity as trustworthy negotiating partners.
“The current owners' trust in any future approach by the Policy & Finance Committee to reasonably manage this situation is likely understood by all parties to be nil.
“The Policy & Finance Committee are simply not credible commercial partners in these discussions.
“I hope that an alternate group of Conseillers will be asked to step forward to take these negotiations over the finish line with all expediency.
"That said, I have an obligation that I will meet and in the likelihood that the legal differences will continue for years to come, Sark Electricity will be under my control for some considerable time and we are approaching the business under this reality.”
You can read Mr Witney-Price's open letter ONLINE HERE.
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