St Ouen's Bay
National Park for Jersey?
By James McLachlan
Jersey could be getting its own National Park and islanders are being invited to have their say on the issue.
The panoramic sweep as you descend into St Ouen’s bay is undoubtedly one of the most impressive views Jersey has to offer.
It is one of the few places where people co-exist peacefully with the natural world – a peculiarity recognised as long ago as 1985, when St Ouen won the Civic Trust award.
Only the Napoleonic fortifications at La Pulente and the wartime bunkers left behind by the Nazis hint at the turbulent history of the bay.
Now the Planning and Environment department is investigating turning parts of St Ouen into a National Park. This would mean the area would be protected and any development on the site would be tightly controlled.
While the proposals have been broadly welcomed by conservationists, concerns have been raised that all building in the area could be blocked.
The Planning and Environment minister, Senator Freddie Cohen, is inviting people to take part in a consultation to see how a National Park could fit into the new island plan.
Le Blanche Banque
The National Park could potentially include Corbiere headland; Ouaisne heathland, dunes and wetland; and the commons of Portlet and Noirmont to the South; Les Landes and Plemont to the north.
Senator Cohen is confident the plans will come to fruition, after the positive response to the green paper consultation last year.
"My intention is to incorporate the national park concept within the island plan and present it to the States at the same time, " he said.
Senator Cohen said, barring any huge problems in terms of what the community wants, he expects to the plan to 'progress very quickly.'
He continued: "The area is a special place and we must have a clear vision on how we pass it on to future generations.
"Granting the area national park status will raise the profile of what we want to protect – be it bio-diversity, building restrictions, or protection of existing buildings.
"There needs to be discussions between the stakeholders, the local community and local businesses on how to set the boundaries.
"I think it will boil down to two or three particular issues, and that is where our efforts will be concentrated." Senator Cohen stressed the importance of people getting involved.
He said: "We will be arranging meetings where we will discuss the issues in a workshop forum.
"If you are going to be affected it is important you contact the environment department and make sure you are included in the consultations."
St Ouen's pond
A place of balance
The prospect of a National Park has delighted the President of the National Trust for Jersey, Mike Stentiford.
Mr Stentiford said: “It is a place of wonderful balance. Around St Ouen’s pond you have migrating African birds in the summertime, and more familiar domestic birds in the winter.”
"It is also home to two very important Sites of Special interest – Le Blanches Banque and Les Landes."
Although National Parks generally need policing, Mr Stentiford believes the infrastructure is already part in place.
Mr Stentiford said: “The SSIs are already managed extremely well by Environment and Planning and the National Trust looks after St Ouen’s pond.
“People underestimate how important having big open spaces is. In the modern stress-filled world it is critical.”
Balanced - St Ouen's Bay
Wrapped in cotton wool
However, the president of the Association of Jersey Architects, Mike Waddington, fears the area may become a "no-go area."
Mr Waddington said: "The benefits of having a national park probably outweigh the drawbacks.
"My only worry is the area will be wrapped in cotton wool. There is a great opportunity to promote eco-tourism through sustainable environmentally sensitive proposals.
"We would be kicking ourselves if we couldn't promote the National Park through things like learning and visitor centres because the development controls were too strict."
Have your say
Does Jersey need a National Park? Would we even notice the difference? Will it just add another layer of red tape to cut through, or is it essential to preserve the area for future generations?
last updated: 03/08/2009 at 13:34
Have Your Say
Simone from Skipton
Mother Nature and co.
Mother Nature and co.
Mr Lake District
Stephen Le Q
Suzanne Le Brocq
odian samson .st. brelade