The construction industry could face a supply crisis after the island's only provider of building sand announced it was suspending operations from 1 September following a "lack of Government support".
Simon Sand Quarry has been extracting sand from St. Ouen’s Bay since 1909 and its product is an integral ingredient in most of the concrete manufactured in Jersey.
The recently published three-year bridging Island Plan does not support the quarry operating beyond 2023 – instead favouring the on-island creation of building sand by crushing rock and recycling waste from La Collette, supplemented with some importation - but it did not envisage it closing before then.
However, owner Jason Simon says that the Government has failed to grant it permission to extract sand beyond the boundaries defined in the quarry’s current five-year licence.
Pictured: The Simon family have been extracting sand from St. Ouen's Bay since 1909.
Although this permit doesn’t run out until the end of 2023, high demand from the construction industry means that the quarry has reached its permitted boundary of extraction far sooner.
Mr Simon argues that the short-term Island Plan, which is due to be debated by States Members next March and will define planning policy to 2025, has ignored the recommendation of consultants who say that the sand extraction should continue for the time being.
“The consultant’s [Arup] latest report recommended continuation of sand extraction from the Simon Sand Quarry. However, ministerial support, in the draft three-year Island Plan, ignores the consultants and continues to endorse alternative sand supplies,” he said.
“These alternatives now include the crushing down of rock to granite dust at local quarries which will require chemicals additives so that it will behave as a natural sand does. Also, the use of excavated waste from La Collette reclamation site, that will be ‘washed’ then blended with shipped in imported aggregates, purportedly to create a usable sand product.
“Simon Sand and Gravel has serious concerns that neither of the above unproven alternatives will be capable of providing suitable sand, of a similar quality, or produce enough quantity to meet current demands. It will certainly not be achieved at a price that our customers have been traditionally accustomed to."
Pictured: Concrete manufacturers in Jersey use sand from Simon Sand Quarry to make blocks and other products.
He continued: “The Government’s continuing efforts to close Simon Sand Quarry also ignores key environmental impacts, particularly the huge increase in carbon emissions, that will be required to produce both types of the limited-use alternatives being proposed in the Island Plan.
“25-years have passed since 1996, when the Government first said it wanted the quarry to close. During that time, we have held countless discussions with Government officials, various departments and consultants to ensure that sand supplies remained uninterrupted.
“Exchanges this year have included several warnings from the company that the currently permitted sand reserves would be insufficient to maintain supply, at current demand levels, until the end of 2023.
“Governments continuing support for alternative sand supplies has meant the company now finds itself in a unique situation.
“Although considerable sand reserves remain within the Simon Sand Quarry site, it is prevented from excavating them.
“The company believes that the warnings regarding sand supply and permit limitations have been largely ignored, despite Government having no credible, reliable or consistent replacement ready.
“Discussions on finding a solution to continue sand supplies are ongoing. However, as the company has now reached the limits of permitted areas, excavation of further reserves available from within the site boundaries, can only resume once support and agreement with Government for continued on-island sand supply has been achieved.
“As a result of a lack of Government support for these concerns, regretfully, Simon Sand and Gravel Limited must suspend the supply of sand, from the 1 September 2021, for an indefinite period.”
Express has approached the Government for comment.
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