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Official review deems foreshore policy "fundamentally flawed"

Official review deems foreshore policy

Friday 15 January 2021

Official review deems foreshore policy "fundamentally flawed"

Friday 15 January 2021


A scathing official report on the foreshore policy has slammed it as “not fit for purpose, fundamentally flawed and lacking in essential detail", nearly four years after Express first brought the Government's decision to fine coastal homeowners to light.

The Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel, chaired by St. Brelade Constable Mike Jackson, made a series of recommendations on the policy and joined calls for the long-awaited foreshore map to be released.

The new policy was released in September last year, several years after complaints over its predecessor had been submitted

The Government's decision to begin forcing coastal homeowners to pay 'compensation' to Government if their properties are deemed to encroach on the Foreshore - defined as the zone between high and low tide - was only brought to light after an Express investigation in 2017.

Despite more than 400 properties being affected by the policy, no map has ever been produced defining exactly which properties should be considered to be bordering on the foreshore. Having boundaries set by the tide means the area constantly changes, and could be affected by climate change.

foreshorehistory.jpg

Pictured: The Scrutiny panel described the foreshore as a “moveable concept” which has historically “been difficult to define”. 

Three-and-a-half years later, the most recent version of policy has now been fully investigated by a panel of politicians, who criticised it at every turn.

The Scrutiny Panel raised several issues in the policy including the uncertainty around the nature of the foreshore boundary, which they described as a “moveable concept” which has historically “been difficult to define”. 

In addition to this uncertainty, amplified due to structures such as sea walls, the impact of land reclamation and climate change, the Panel noted there is a dispute over the fact that all foreshore land was owned by the Crown and therefore could not have been given to the public in 2015.

The report goes on to state that the Law Society highlighted how the Crown had previously been “untroubled” by alleged encroachments and described the Government’s approach as “exploiting a previously tacitly accepted position to make money”.

“We understand their concern to avoid further encroachments, but not their rapacious demands over previous alleged encroachments established (effectively) on their watch,” they added.

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Pictured: The Panel, chaired by Mike Jackson, issued a number of recommendations on the policy.

The panel also voiced concerns over how the policy proposes to deal with encroachments and how deliberate and unintentional ones are differentiated. They also recommended the Minister applies the policy “in a fair and non-discriminatory manner”, and not simply in the case of a sale or planning application.

The Panel rejected the reasons advanced by the Minister for not disclosing the foreshore map, which they argued should be released “interests of greater clarity and transparency”. 

“The Panel is concerned regarding the lack of transparency by not allowing the public access to the research undertaken, the Master Schedule, or aspects thereof, or map in relation to informing an explicit boundary line for the foreshore,” they wrote. “Noting that a substantial number of properties (approximately 400 properties) are being considered regarding alleged encroachments, this is particularly concerning.

“The Panel considers that all members of the public wishing to purchase or sell properties that adjoin the foreshore should be knowledgeable of the boundaries that apply, and the information used to define them.” 

International Development Minister Deputy Carolyn Labey recently broke ranks to put forward an amendment to the Government’s foreshore policy calling for the same

The review also found that there is currently no suitable complaints or appeals mechanism included in either the current or the revised policy to enable individuals to appeal a decision made by the Minister on compensation for an encroachment. 

The Panel said the only option available was to make a case to the States of Jersey Complaints Board, which they described as “particularly concerning”, and called for a “a suitable and workable process” to be included in the policy before it is adopted. 

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Pictured: The Assembly will be debating the policy on Tuesday 19 January.

While the revised policy was meant to address issues with the current one, the Panel said it had found “an overwhelming and unanimous view that [it] remains an unfair approach”, adding that the new policy is “complicated, unclear and lacks transparency” and would neither be workable or benefit the public.

In addition, the Panel said the policy failed to address the recommendation from the Complaints Board which upheld the complaint of unfairness by Alan Luce and Julian Mallinson, who were fined around £50,000 between them for alleged encroachments. 

“In consideration of all the evidence received the Panel considers the Minister for Infrastructure’s revised policy to be fundamentally flawed and lacking in essential detail,” the Panel wrote.

“It is the Panel’s view that the revised policy is not fit for purpose in its current form. 

“Whilst the Deputy of Grouville’s amendment goes a large way in its attempt to improve the policy in terms of fairness, clarity and transparency, as highlighted in this report and our recommendations, there are other aspects of the policy which still remain flawed. As a result, we feel we are unable to support the adoption of the revised policy.”

Mr Mallinson welcomed the report and thanked Scrutiny for "its hard work over the last year."

"I’m not the least surprised that the Panel considers Jersey Property Holding’s Revised Policy to be unfair and not fit for purpose, echoing the findings of the Complaint’s Board and the Jersey Law Society," he said.

"I hope States Members will also reach this rather obvious conclusion when they vote next week”.

The policy and Deputy Labey's amendment are due to be debated in the coming weeks.

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Posted by AlanLuce59 on
So far so good JPH

Legal advice. Ignored
States constituted Jersey Complaints Board. Ignored
SOSJersey report. Ignored
Deputy Carolyn Labey. Ignored
Jersey Law Society. Ignored
Sir Philip Baillache comments. Ignored
Advocate Richard Falle and Dr John Kellerher. Ignored
Bailiwick Express reports. Ignored
Jersey Evening Post reports. Ignored
ITV Channel Islands. Ignored
Bbc Radio Jersey. Ignored

So far Deputies Noel and Lewis have blindly battled on against the plain truth to pursue the questionable if not even indefensible. I have always questioned why this has not been concluded and dismissed. As this continues the question must arise “who initiated this folly” in the name of the people of Jersey? Its self evident its not a politically endorsed action as its yet to be debated 19/1/2021) with policies (2 now) obviously retrospectively written.

Scrutiny. Ignored?

Deputy Lewis is his infinite wisdom surely will continue to ignore in the future....the UK press? the Governor of Jersey as the Queens representative? certainly cock a snook at the Privvy Council and dare he ignore Her Majesty; goodness...surely he will.

Not fit for purpose. Exactly. Don’t be lead down a perilous and costly path again People of Jersey.
Posted by jay guiton on
Is this really still going on ? Surely Property Holdings must now start listening, how can they continue to go against the advice of the Jersey Law Society. The arrogance of the department is frightening, every media report seems to slate them , consideration should be given to winding up the department and giving the management of public property to experts in private practice, enough is enough !
Posted by John Henwood on
There is an apparently well-founded rumour that the Chief Minister, presumably recognising the shortcomings of Jersey Property Holdings and Deputy Kevin Lewis the Minister responsible, is planning to take the issue of publicly owned property into his own department. Senator Le Fondre was responsible for JPH, albeit briefly, during his time as Assistant Treasury Minister and is aware of its failures. One fervently hope the rumours are true, because Deputy Lewis is clearly not up to the job. His plan is hopelessly flawed, basically saying that there are many infringements, but we're not going to tell you where they are and we're keeping the map of the foreshore secret. What absolute nonsense! Government cannot act in secret on this or any other matter of public policy. Surely, the States will have the good sense to throw out Deputy Lewis's plan; Deputy Carolyn Labey's alternative proposal may not be perfect, but it will serve as an interim solution until a proper review is conducted leading to a sensible and workable long-term solution. This has been allowed to go on far too long.
Posted by AlanLuce59 on
....I would add, never in the Trumpest method of encouraging sedition,

The 400 home owners currently holding their breaths should without doubt not allow the JPH rule of “divide and conquer” to play out. Band together and defend as a class action. They will with numbers undoubtedly win, Julian and myself as individuals, with immense support have driven a horse and cart through JPH arguments.
Posted by nigel pearce on
Will this include all the properties in St. Helier up to the Town Church which once used to be on the edge of the extent of the high tide?
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