Response to Inspectors’ report for Bailiwick Express

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We are extremely disappointed to read the Inspectors’ report and realise that the sheer number of objections and the hundreds of detailed points raised/research provided during the Consultation process and during the meeting with inspectors have been disregarded and ignored. The Inspectors have chosen to rely solely on evidence from the quarries much of which related to ‘independent’ reports commissioned by Granite Products who will benefit from the reports’ conclusions and they have not undertaken or recommended a geological analysis of La Gigoulande’s reserves. Equally surprising is their lack of concern with respect to the environmental consequences of blasting and crushing rock, particularly from the dangers to public health from dust pollution.   A democratic process is one we should all be able to contribute to and trust in with belief of its integrity. Regarding a number of references made during the report, we remain unconvinced that the process has resulted in a fair and balanced assessment of islanders’ concerns nor the islands future quarrying needs.

‘Safe-guarding’ – the red herring

What is most concerning is the message that islanders will likely glean from Inspectors’ report – that the island needs to ‘safeguard’ field MY966 in order to facilitate affordable building projects in the future. This is at the core of the logic which supports the expansion of the quarry and is indeed an emotive angle, which distracts from the main agenda which, we believe, is far from the best interests of islanders and the protection of the ecology of Jersey. We want the public to realise that Brett and Son already own field MY966 and could, at any time, apply for planning application, so why have they waited for the Inspectors’ report? Indeed, the report attempts to align safeguarding with affordable housing, despite a 30-year landbank of crushed rock, to pave the way for the rejection of Senator Kristina Moore’s proposed amendment (which was fully supported by many islanders and politicians /key figures in St Mary, St Peter and St Lawrence) which in turn may be more favourable to a positive result in the formal application for expansion of the quarry. 

In the long term different construction methods with reduced carbon footprint ….reduce on island quarrying’ We have to address this now!

If islanders want affordable housing in the future, we need a government which will act innovatively and with robust convictions about the best way to plan for building in the future. NO report has been carried out to-date into the possibility of a major shift to Modern Methods of Construction nor whether imports would actually have a substantially reduced carbon footprint as fossil fuels are being phased out. The report gives NO evidence to back up its claim that importations cost 90 percent more than quarrying , in fact evidence submitted which contradicted this has been ignored – we need to independently investigate the real costs of importation as this may well be the best way forward.

Slowing the process

From the outset, we have been urging the Government to take time to fully consider the potential need for the expansion of La Gigoulande quarry which has, excluding unconsented reserves, 6-7 years of reserves left. Furthermore, we know that with Ronez the island has approximately 30 years’ worth of reserves available, and that it would be in  the island’s best interest to sensibly harvest those resources first. By removing this from the BIP we were hoping good sense would prevail and the real concerns of environmental impact, public health and safety, alternative methods of construction and importation could be fully investigated to ensure Jersey makes the best decision for now and the future. By failing to do this, we have to ask ourselves, who benefits from this rushed effort to extinguish productive agricultural land, a much-loved green lane and all associated wildlife? Mineral extraction from an agricultural field in the countryside of St Mary is not the solution to affordable housing, however with an estimated value of £15mln with planning consent it would be of considerable  benefit to its  UK owners. 

Continued fight

Having taken some time to digest the report, we remain steadfast in our opinion that it would be wrong to extend La Gigoulande quarry and we plan to battle on against an unjust cause. The original points that many islanders raised during the consultation process still remain so we continue to support Senator Kristina Moore’s amendment to remove this from the BIP despite the recommendation of the Inspector. We will also be meeting with and discussing our conclusions with local politicians this week to fully voice our concerns and frustration that the inspectors have chosen to side almost unilaterally with the position taken by the quarry.

We will be updating our many supporters via our Facebook page: Action Against Quarry and we are in the process of setting up a website to give more detailed information.

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