The States will debate a Requete this week, led by Deputy Steve Falla, which seeks to introduce new protections for a green field next to the Princess Elizabeth Hospital.
In recent weeks the Requete has received widespread political and public support, including from the Guernsey Farmers Association (GFA), who wants to protect an area of “permanent pasture”.
The President of the GFA, Michael Bray, has written to all deputies, and you can read his letter in full below:
“The Guernsey Farmers Association is writing to you in support of the Requete P.2022/43, in relation to the Key Worker Housing, being led by Deputy Steve Falla.
“Whilst the GFA accepts that a need for key worker housing is an important issue to maintain a fully functioning health system, allowing the use of green field sites, especially those that fall within the Agricultural Priority Site by the States of Guernsey, should be avoided in both the current context, and future developments when suitable brown field sites exist setting an example to the private sector.
“The GFA receives between 20 and 30 planning applications annually involving farmland to consult on. Many of these applications fall within the APA, and whilst some are not being actively farmed, the loss of these areas from the agricultural pool of land means farming on Guernsey is being pushed to become more intensive at a time when less intensive, more environmentally beneficial farming techniques are seen as the future path to achieve biodiversity and climate goals.”
Pictured: Deputy Steve Falla.
“The proposed green field for development next to the hospital site is being actively farmed by Guernsey’s youngest generation of farmers, siblings Robin and Rachel Le Cocq. This field is used for the grazing of the farms young stock and due to its topography is in permanent pasture, which is a rare and valuable habitat with a huge biodiversity benefit to the Island. Given the fields location close to the more urban areas of the Island, this land has a bigger environmental benefit than that of land in more rural areas of the Island, in terms of being able to reduce pollution, absorb water runoff, acting as a carbon store and aiding in reducing the heat effect urban areas create.
“Farming, whilst incredibly different from the healthcare profession, shares similar anti-social long hours and late finishes and whilst some of our farmers prefer to live on farm many do not, allowing adequate down time away from their place of work. The GFA is confident that a similar proportion of our healthcare professionals share the same enthusiasm to live off site to allow them the proper down time between shifts. Supporting Deputy Falla’s requete would therefore be beneficial by allowing HSC to have a future proofed range of housing locations and sizes to accommodate both the short-term key worker and encourage those healthcare workers looking to stay longer term.”
“The GFA is aware that the Island’s countryside faces continued pressure but wherever possible these areas should be protected as once they are gone, they are inevitably lost for good. Deputies are urged to ensure the States of Guernsey respects the Agricultural Priority Area that was established to protect these unique and invaluable areas, so that our future generations can continue to farm and enjoy these green areas. In times where food security, biodiversity and climate change are increasing in their importance we must all do what we can to protect and preserve our green fields. We would therefore urge deputies to support Deputy Falla’s Requete in its full and protect our Guernsey countryside.”