Your Questions

Table of contents

COASTAL PROTECTION

What will you do to further the protection of our marine environment, and promote the Ramsar Areas that Jersey are proud to have?

The Ramsar Areas have been very poorly handled and in certain locations are in the wrong place. The concept was initially "sold" to the States of Jersey on a marine conservation basis that would put Jersey on a "world map" for "marine biology tourism".

The Island already had quite adequate marine conservation laws and regulations and the advantage to tourism was minimal.

It was not properly understood that the Ramsar Convention was not intended for interstitial tidal zones, but was a political tool aimed at the draining of marshland in Iraq, which was threatening the culture and lives of Iraqi Marsh Arabs under dictatorial rule.

The English Channel is now "fished out" and Ramsar status will not prevent a fleet of Spanish fishing boats or Russian factory ship with support vessels suddenly clearing out our local waters without notice.

We should be putting measures in place to protect our fisheries now. All forms of bottom trawling and dredging should be banned and consideration must be given to adopting similar measures to Gibraltar, by placing physical obstructions on the sea bed. Such obstructions could be constructed such as they form "artificial rocks or reefs" for nurturing marine life.

Additionally, I would favour the sinking of wrecks around the coastline to promote dive tourism, as well as fish breeding nurseries.

I consider that our future economy will take greater advantage of Jersey’s marine assets. Aqua-culture, educational opportunities for marine biology, fishing (commercial and leisure), tidal energy, sport diving, wave power and yachting are all areas for economic diversification which will have various impacts.

I believe that balances must be struck between economic and environmental benefits.

Are you concerned at the ever denser (and often inappropriate) development that has been taking over our coastal areas?

My response depends entirely on the location and I think it is unhelpful to attempt to establish all embracing principles.

Organisers who persuaded several thousand people to hold hands on St Ouen’s beach also offered some planning guidelines for coastal developments.

Those guidelines would have blocked the construction of the new "El Tico". I am sure a number of people would favour the old "El Tico", but the new one seems pretty popular to me.

I am also happy with dense development on reclamation schemes, such as the Waterfront.

La Collette 1 and 2 plus West of Albert Pier totals over 180 acres of land, which accommodates power stations, a fuel farm, marinas, leisure facilities and a large number of residential units.

If those buildings weren’t there, Islanders should consider where all that construction would have been located.

If so, what do you think can be done and what would you do to help?

The bulk of the inappropriate coastal development was constructed 60 years ago. It is now a matter of making improvements when opportunities arise.

However, I remain of the view that we must continue the well established Jersey tradition of reclaiming land from the sea,

ESPLANADE - FINANCIAL QUARTER

Do you wish to preserve the Esplanade car park?

The Esplanade car park is one of Jersey’s more attractive ground level parking areas thanks to the extensive planting that has had time to establish itself.
Unfortunately, it also represents a very poor use of extremely high value land space and it was always destined to be a temporary amenity.
In due course it will give way to underground car parking (providing many more car parking spaces) and new buildings with eco-friendly roofing and roof top gardens.
Consequently, I see no case for its long term preservation.

Do you wish to see it developed for office blocks?

The original master plan for the "Financial Quarter" contained mixed development, including leisure areas and retail.

The high proportion of office premises included in the proposed development was a response to the early expansionist years of Jersey’s financial services industry, when a large number of substantially sized Town residences were converted to office space.

The intention of the "Financial Quarter" was to provide business premises designed to the latest environmental and technical standards, allowing a shift of occupancy to the Esplanade and an opportunity to re-instate domestic dwellings.

Whilst this objective remains achievable, I favour the development of Grade A office blocks with roof gardens etc.

Do you think we need more new offices?

As indicated in my response to Q2, I believe that Jersey harbours a large amount of inappropriate office space in buildings that were not designed for that purpose.

Modern offices are more energy efficient and capable of housing the massive amount of electrical and fibre optic cabling that is now required. We need new "state of the art" offices if we are to attract business to the Island and we can "reconfigure" the redundant premises to other uses.

Do you realise the area is built on toxic deposits?

I was under the impression that most Islanders understand that there is a considerable amount of unchecked and ungraded waste on the West of Albert Pier reclamation location, some of which may be described as toxic.

My own inquiries indicate that a significant number of local businesses used the opportunity to dump hard core materials on the site, whilst concealing unacceptable materials such as paints and other commercial chemicals within dump loads.

There is little evidence to determine how much of the material is actually poisonous to humans or wild life, but the underground parking aspect and the road tunnel feature of the proposed "Financial Quarter" would ensure that a very large quantity of this polluted material could be removed and properly disposed of.

FISHERIES AND FOOD PRODUCTION

How should Jersey feed itself in the future? Describe your vision?

Depending upon global events, I do not visualise any significant changes in the short term. Certainly the general mechanisms used to supply food to Jersey households will remain pretty much the same — locally sourced produce supplemented by imported goods from around the planet.

Current criticism of what is popularly called "food miles" is entirely justified when our environment is having to cope with excess carbon emissions.

However, I would never wish to bet against developing technology. If massive refrigerated container ships bringing produce from far and wide eventually run on renewable energy, it may prove to be a very acceptable solution.

Of course I would like to see more locally sourced food, as that is a direct benefit to our economy.

Apart from a number of minor mysteries, such as Jersey Royal new potatoes being cheaper in United Kingdom supermarkets than in the island where they are grown, it all seems to work reasonably well as things stand.

That said, I think we have to take our fishing industry much more seriously. Fish stocks in the English Channel are fished out and Channel Island and surrounding French waters are likely to be pillaged in the very near future by the big international fishing fleets. I am not aware of any preparations or response plans for that eventuality.

Additionally, we should curtail bottom dredging of our waters, which is wrecking the sea bed. Like Gibraltar, Jersey should look at putting physical barriers on the sea bottom to terminate the destructive technique of trawling. I would also go one stage further and design the obstructions so that they also provided havens for marine life, thereby creating new breeding grounds for our fish stocks.

In respect of a vision for food in Jersey, I would like to see a complete change in our culture of consumption towards the European tradition of "dining out".

It amazes me to consider just how many car miles, hours, effort and energy are taken up in the daily preparation of food.

A family supper requires shopping, stocking up, preparation, firing up cooking elements, water use (preparation and cleaning), waste disposal etc. Contrast this to a commercial restaurant, discount bulk purchase, fresh daily delivery, industrial kitchen with professional staff etc. — which has to be massively more efficient in respect of food production [source to plate] and therefore much more environmentally sound.

Let’s all eat out — together — and regain our community spirit!

RENEWABLE ENERGY

How important is renewable energy? Do you think it is possible to see Jersey powered by 100% renewable energy by the year 2030?

Renewable energy is absolutely critical to the future of the planet and being energy dependent on outside sources is one of the biggest drawbacks to living on an island.

Only a couple of hundred years ago Jersey’s only serious sources of power were a large number of horses and a scattering of water and wind mills. Now the Island consumes vast quantities of energy by comparison.

I think Jersey could be wholly powered by renewable energy within 15 years as this is achievable in engineering terms.

Unfortunately, any cost/benefit analysis of such a policy would probably prove extremely expensive when compared to continuing access to the French electricity grid and that country’s nuclear power resources.

Nevertheless, I would like to see a more vigorous approach to exploring the possibilities of utilising "marine energy", as Jersey has some enormous advantages in respect of a large tidal range and consistently strong tidal flows.

Quite apart from the "marine energy", Jersey also has the fairly unique ability to be able to construct "off shore" wind farms at low tide, when a massive range of rock "base plinths" are exposed, hugely reducing the expense of such an exercise.

STATES OF JERSEY DEVELOPMENT COMPANY

Do you believe the accounts should be made more transparent?

I believe that the SoJDC accounts should be more transparent, with the caveat that publication of information should not undermine any SoJDC position in respect of commercial sensitivity.

Do you wish to leave things as they are?

Most certainly not. I consider SoJDC to be a government quango that is essentially out of control and virtually unaccountable. It is a vast property owner and its income and expenditure streams are highly questionable.

A far too limited number of people know what SoJDC does and proposes to do and monitoring controls are minimal. There must be far greater accountability and much wider consultation on future planning.

Is there anything else you’d like to add on the subject?

SoJDC presides over the ownership of a large and diverse property portfolio that is owned by the public.

I would like to see that the total scale of that property portfolio is published and continually updated. I have been required to sign confidentiality agreements simply in order to acquire maps of publicly owned land, which is an utterly ridiculous state of affairs.

The public should be invited to offer ideas and suggestions as to how that portfolio could be developed.

TRAFFIC

What is your strategy to reduce traffic problems in the Island?

Despite what one may determine from media coverage, there are very few traffic problems in Jersey. This contrasts with endless complaints about parking and road surface conditions, which are different although not unrelated matters.

The well known issue is morning peak time travel as large numbers of motorists attempt to drive into Town at the same time. The solution is a simple one and that is to encourage drivers to travel into Town at different times. Of course, this is easier said than done because, for example, even though many businesses are happy to allow their workforce to operate flexi-time, other constraints may continue to apply — such as having to drop off children at school.

In fact, it is the Town secondary schools that provide the answer to the problem. Various studies have demonstrated that peak time Town traffic reduces by 15% during the school holidays and, in consequence, flows freely. To date, attempts to achieve such a reduction during term time by persuading commuters to use the buses, cycle or walk to Town have proved unsuccessful. The solution is to artificially create "permanent school holidays" by starting school classes around 30 to 45 minutes later than at present, whilst retaining the ability of parents to drop off students on their way to work. Creating a longer period of time for this "drop off envelope" allows a large number of parents to avoid morning congestion and, crucially, allows hundreds of teachers to avoid congested traffic altogether.

An additional potential spin off is new evidence emerging of improved academic results for late starting secondary schools in the United States. It appears that teenagers really are that bad in the mornings and they prove to be far more attentive to class work commencing later in the day.

The shift in school start times would have the most major impact on morning peak time congestion, but I would spread the solution to a number of Town based government departments, especially those with public facing counter staff, where there could be considerable merit in starting much later in the morning and finishing later in the afternoon. This would allow many Town workers to accomplish States linked commitments or tasks after work, say between 5 o’clock and 6.

How would you encourage people to commute? Alternative methods? How would you implement this?

I am slightly puzzled by this question, as I would not encourage anyone to commute, having wasted thousands of hours of my own life in this unavoidable exercise. I currently operate my own consultancy business from a laptop at home and a mobile phone when out and about. Additionally, I arrange to meet clients at times that do not coincide with the predictable periods of traffic congestion.

However, if the meaning is to encourage commuters to use public transport I would generally support the existing strategies of improving the bus service and encouraging two wheeled transport. The latter will require a continuing programme of installing additional bicycle stands and motor bike parking on all Town streets because — as motorists often forget — quite a lot of cyclists and motor cyclists do not park in the same place all day.

Perhaps surprisingly, I do not favour the introduction of a Town Hoppa bus service. It is an expensive solution to getting around Town as it is limited to one or more routes, is unlikely to access the dozens of "back streets" and will require several vehicles to provide sufficient frequency of service. It will be obvious that if there’s only a bus every 15 minutes, it will probably be quicker to walk. Additionally, any bus or van — by virtue of its size — will inevitably add to congestion.

Instead, I would favour the use of "cycle rickshaws" that can carry two or three passengers and would constitute a variant on a taxi service, capable of running door to door anywhere in Town. Usually pedal powered tricycles, these vehicles are a common sight in many towns and cities and can be summoned by phone or hailed in the street. I would anticipate that pricing would be similar to a Hoppa bus or potentially free. Sadly, this type of scheme requires some significant changes to current legislation.

Having outlined the above, I should state that ALL bets are off if the "driver-less car" being pioneered by Google becomes a practical reality in the next few years. I think the concept offers some extraordinary potential outcomes for on-Island travel and I would invest heavily in a very substantial bank of these vehicles.