Jersey politicians vote against buying Plemont headland
- 13 December 2012
- From the section Jersey
The Plemont headland beauty spot will not be bought for the people of Jersey after a vote was lost in the States by one.
Chief Minister Senator Ian Gorst wanted the States to buy the land and sell it to the National Trust for £3m.
Owner Plemont Bay Estates were given planning permission for 28 homes and the return of 80% of the site to nature in November.
Members voted against the plan 24 votes in favour to 25 against.
Celia Jeune, from the National Trust for Jersey, said she was disappointed in the States members.
She said: "The National Trust for Jersey will now withdraw completely from the Plemont issue and now leave the taxpayers of the island to maintain what is left.
"We will continue to do the very best for the land and properties that we own and continue to defend environmentally sensitive places if we see the island jewels may be raped again.
"We are saddened that the majority of States members could not step out of the box and actually repair some of the recent damage that has been inflected on this once beautiful land."
The States spent three days debating whether to buy the former Pontins holiday site that is also part of Jersey's seabird protection zone.
Representing the developers, architect Paul Harding said their scheme would see 28 homes built but 80% of the land would be returned to nature and handed back to the States.
He said: "We have widely consulted with experts in their fields on ecology, on birds, on puffins - even having special reports on the puffins.
"All of them concluded that there would be a significant improvement in the ecology and wildlife of the area arising from our proposal."
The debate started on Tuesday with members first voting on a number of amendments and finished before lunch on Thursday.
On Tuesday a number of amendments were debated including one to give the National Trust for Jersey a loan. This was rejected after the trust said it would not be able to afford to pay it back in full.
It was originally proposed by Deputy Geoff Southern, who said the trust should pay the money back to the States over 10 years. Deputy Jeremy Macon tried to have the time frame changed to 50 years but both were rejected.
The debate was stopped early on Tuesday so Chief Minister Senator Ian Gorst could discuss with the National Trust how much it could contribute.
He said the charity could not afford a loan so he brought an amendment to his own proposition raising the trust's contribution from £2m to 50% of the cost up to £3m.
Most speakers noted the debate over Plemont was an issue that had divided the island.
Senator Sir Philip Bailhache who brought the proposition on behalf of Chief Minister Senator Ian Gorst, said he was shocked at how divided the States was on the subject.
He said: "How can we as an assembly be so divided on something that goes to the heart of our approach to the environment and the kind of island in which we want to live."
Constable of St Martin, Michel Le Troquer, said there was a real split over the subject.
He said: "The Plemont issue has in many ways divided the assembly, divided this island and has caused strain on friendships even within families. I heard that over the weekend a fight broke out at a wedding reception over this very issue."