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Guernsey's Economic Development President “not behind” tunnel plans

Guernsey's Economic Development President “not behind” tunnel plans

Thursday 21 March 2024

Guernsey's Economic Development President “not behind” tunnel plans

Thursday 21 March 2024


Guernsey's Economic Development President has cast shade on the idea of a direct tunnel link between the Channel Islands and France.

Deputy Neil Inder told the States of Guernsey that “if it ever happens there is considerable risk, and it changes everything” – taking a very different stance to his Jersey political counterpart Deputy Kirsten Morel.

But Deputy Inder said if a tunnel ever does happen then it “would make some sense [for Guernsey] to be involved in some way, shape, or form”. 

He added that any tunnel would be more likely to go between Jersey and France first, while saying he is personally “not behind” the tunnel link idea. 

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Pictured: Jersey's Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel is more positive about the potential project.

The Government of Jersey have committed to investigate the feasibility of such a link, with Economic Development Minister Deputy Morel speaking warmly of the project as a way to solve some of the islands’ biggest demographic and economic challenges.  

Deputy Inder said Economic Development met with the experts brought over by the private project team – Connect 3 Million – and are in the process of working out how much would be required from the public sector during the “thinking phase”.  

During question time in the States of Guernsey this week, Deputy David Mahoney said it was “worrying that with a slick presentation people dribble over the prospect of cheap travel”. 

He said the tunnel project has “zero chance of real success” and sought assurances that no public money would be budgeted by this Economic Development for the tunnel scheme. 

Deputy Inder reiterated his previous stance. 

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 Pictured: Guernsey's Economic Development President, Deputy Neil Inder.

Deputy Inder also updated the States on other work being carried out by the Committee. 

Market testing for a new ferry operator is continuing with Guernsey and Jersey united in the view that a single operator for the Channel Islands will provide the best solution for all, he said. 

Bookings for the new Aurigny Paris air route are strong, with more money to be invested in marketing the island to the French, Deputy Inder said. While visitor numbers are down on 2019 levels, he said the island is on par with Jersey in “recovery years” since the pandemic.  

18,000 premises are now ready for fibre broadband, with nearly 10,000 now connected to the new network. 

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Pictured: Deputy Inder said the work to secure sea links was one of the most important work streams currently being undertaken. 

Questions to the President from deputies ranged from tuna fishing to boating from Jersey to Herm.  

Deputy Gavin St Pier asked what work has been undertaken after Express revealed that the Guernsey Border Agency had reminded boaters of post-Brexit requirements for visiting boaters to register at an approved port prior to visiting the smaller islands. 

He feared there would be an economic loss to the Bailiwick from boaters put off visiting Herm and Sark from outside Guernsey. 

Deputy Inder said he would get more detail, and meetings have been held with Policy & Resources and Home Affairs. 

Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen questioned what effects would trickle down from the UK government’s decision to abolish the non-domicile tax status. Deputy Inder said there would be a “ripple effect” but tax advisors were being consulted on the implications. 

He also rejected claims that there isn’t a future for the cannabis industry in the island, and that he understands private investment in that market is continuing.  

Compliance and legal work is ongoing into establishing a tuna fishery in Bailiwick waters and Deputy Inder said it’s likely it will only be catch and release rather than landing tuna. He said it’s unlikely to be ready for this year’s fishing season. 

Deputy Inder has also requested conversations with the Jersey Consumer Council after it called for justification from Jersey lenders why borrowing costs are higher there than in the UK.  

Economic Development members also defended the current state of the construction industry, saying a good pipeline of projects is satisfying the market.  

READ MORE...

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