Discussions about the fate of a field that was bought at an inflated price before it was proposed for rezoning as a quarry extension will be made public, the Environment Minister has said.
Field ‘MY966’ was sold to La Gigoulande quarry owner Granite Products at the end of 2019 for £1.65m, a figure greatly above the market value for its permitted use, agriculture.
However, this field was later earmarked as suitable for the aggregate quarry in St. Peter’s Valley to expand into, leading some to ask if the earlier purchase was “a done deal”.
Already denying this was the case, Environment Minister Deputy John Young has committed to publish any correspondence between Granite Products and consultants Arup, which wrote a strategy on future mineral extraction, recommending that the quarry expand into the field.
Arup’s conclusions were incorporated into the recently published draft short-term Island Plan, which is a blueprint for planning policy from next year until the end of 2025.
Pictured: The draft bridging Island Plan recommends that La Gigoulande quarry in St Peter’s Valley is allowed to expand into a nearby field.
Since its publication, a number of residents living close to the field have strongly objected to the quarry’s expansion.
Answering a question from St. Lawrence Deputy Kirsten Morel in the States Assembly on Tuesday, Deputy Young said it was normal for people wanting to buy land to ask Planning officers about its future use.
“But that advice is always given without commitment because the decision, certainly in this case, will ultimately be made by the States Assembly,” he said.
“The Arup report sets out the conflicting arguments around where the Island sources its minerals in future. After a period of consultation, the independent inspector reviewing the Island Plan will look into Arup’s recommendations and if the evidence doesn’t stack up, then it won’t happen.”
“If one reads their report, it shows there were consultation between Arup and representatives of Granite Products in February 2020 followed by written representations to their questions. I haven’t seen those letters, but I have asked them to be produced.
“My role is to ensure the planning process is open and transparent.”
Jersey Water had previously said that La Gigoulande Quarry would be a suitable site for a reservoir but this is not supported in the latest Island Plan.
CEO Helier Smith told Express yesterday that, while Jersey Water were “disappointed” they were not able to use the site for a reservoir, they were "moving on and working on our Water Resources Management plan [and] looking at other resolutions and sites in the island."
Granite Products has previously said that it bought the field 18 months ago so that "it had the opportunity to continue to meet Jersey’s needs for construction materials for many years to come.”
It added that “any proposal would be rightly scrutinised as part of the planning process, which will include consultation with local residents and the public."
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