Sunday 25 October 2020
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Politicians vote to freeze foreshore fines

Politicians vote to freeze foreshore fines

Friday 25 September 2020

Politicians vote to freeze foreshore fines


States Members have voted to put a freeze on any payments for encroachments on the Foreshore until a new policy is approved.

The move comes after Deputy Carolyn Labey put forward a plan to stop the process, compensate two homeowners that had been affected and force the Infrastructure Minister, Deputy Kevin Lewis, to produce a map of exactly where the foreshore is.

But her proposals were voted through following a number of amendments from Deputy Lewis, who described producing a map of the Foreshore - defined as the area between the high and low tide mark - as “unworkable”.

The vote, which passed 28 in favour and 13 against, means that any further transactions between property owners and the public will be paused until a new policy has been debated.

It also means that homeowners Alan Luce and Julian Mallinson - who paid £30,000 and £20,000 respectively - will be refunded in line with any new policy that gets agreed. 

The pair had previously complained about the Government’s foreshore ‘fine’ regime, and had their grievances upheld by the States Complaints Board. 

It concluded that Jersey Property Holdings, which had handled the process, had behaved in an “unjust oppressive and improperly discriminatory” manner towards them

The Infrastructure Minister has already published what he proposes for the new policy. 

As revealed by Express in advance of its publication last week, it suggests a ‘sliding scale’ of charges to owners of properties encroaching on the Foreshore depending on how long their encroachments have been there. 

Under the new policy, the severity of encroachment will also be taken into account, with islanders whose homes have breached the sea wall likely to face heavier penalties.

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Pictured: Deputy Carolyn Labey's proposal was passed this afternoon, as amended by the Minister for Infrastructure.

The draft policy also lays out a proactive approach to contacting property owners to "discuss their boundary situation". Previously, islanders were only asked for payment when they tried to sell their homes.

Today’s vote marks the beginning of a resolution to a saga first exposed by Express in 2017.

The area between the high and low tide mark was previously owned by the Queen, but was gifted to Jersey in 2015 so that the island could look at developing renewable energy using the tides. 

But Express revealed two years later that rather than use the gift for its stated aim, the Government had quietly started pursuing islanders with coastal properties partially encroaching on this ill-defined land for payment. 

This was despite no formal policy being in place at the time.

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Pictured: Alan Luce and Julian Mallinson will be refunded in line with any new policy that is approved.

Since then, islanders have been calling for a fully formed policy detailing how charges are decided and a map of exactly where the boundary line lies. 

Three years later, the Government has finally drafted a masterplan detailing where the Foreshore is and the properties sitting on it, but is refusing to release it over concerns it would prejudice its ability to negotiate.

Express understands that more than 400 properties sit on the disputed zone. 

But that number could be set to grow even further due to climate change, with the Attorney General conceding yesterday that the Foreshore was a “moveable concept” that could change as sea levels rise - potentially bringing more land into ‘public’ ownership.

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Pictured top: Previous floods have proven the sea wall isn't a definitive 'high water mark' boundary, meaning the Public's land technically reaches as far as the water can.

The new Foreshore policy is due to be debated and voted on by politicians in November.

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Comments

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Posted by Keith Marsh on
At last, some common sense in this subject. Lets hope it is not too long before such new policy is approved.
Posted by nigel pearce on
Any new policy should not be retrospective.
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