The owners of the St. Ouen's Bay quarry that has provided most of the island's building sand for over a century has said it is “shocked” by Government plans to close the site.
The latest Island Plan, which is a blueprint for development until 2025, recommends that the current permit to extract sand issued to Simon Sand and Gravel should not be extended beyond the end of 2023, when it expires.
However, the quarry – which has created a large body of water as sand has been removed – argues that a key report on minerals that was designed to underpin the recommendations in the “bridging” Island Plan concludes that it should continue to operate.
The draft Island Plan, which will be debated by the States next year after an extensive period of consultation, estimates that there remains between 165,000 and 180,000 tonnes of extractable sand at the quarry, which equates to less than three years’ supply.
Pictured: Sand was first extracted from the quarry by Walter Simon in 1909. Today, it is owned by Jason Simon, the fifth generation of the family to run it.
It adds: “In terms of securing a supply of sand for the island, the Minerals, Waste and Water Study has established that there are alternative sources of supply where sand and gravel for the construction industry can be produced.
“This includes the supply of alternative products from the two stone quarries (at Ronez and La Gigoulande Quarries), supplemented with treated secondary aggregates from the inert waste processing industry, and some importation through the Port of St Helier.
“On this basis, and having regard to the long-established policy expectation that the Simon Sand and Gravel extraction site will cease operation in the near-term; that the winnable reserves within the current boundary of the site are limited; that the existing consented period of extraction will expire; and that the landscape is to be restored in the relatively short term during this plan period, the further extension of extraction at or adjacent to the Simon Sand and Gravel site, beyond the terms of the current planning permission, will not be supported.”
However, a spokesman for the quarry said this recommendation made “no sense”.
“We are surprised and concerned with the direction that the Environment Minister has chosen for the recently published draft bridging Island Plan.
“The Government undertook an update of the Minerals, Waste and Water Study, using UK-based consultants Arup, to create a 'robust, evidence-based' study. As a major stakeholder in this field, Simon Sand and Gravel was invited to participate.
“The study, costing [nearly £100,000], started in late 2019 and was completed in late 2020.
“During the study period consultations between SSG and Arup took place. Due to covid-19 restrictions, this was mainly restricted to email and telephone correspondence, although the consultancy team did manage to get in one trip to Jersey.
“Arup’s final report, dated December 2020, was not communicated to SSG until a few days before the publication of the draft bridging Island Plan. This left the company no time to comment on the report, despite the Minister using the study to inform the direction of his draft bridging policy.
“Having now had the opportunity to read the report in detail, the company is struggling to understand why the Minister has chosen to ignore the findings put forward by the consultants.
“One of Arup’s conclusions reached states: ‘Use of Simon Sand and Gravel’s existing permitted works as an integrated extraction, waste management and restoration site would make best use of the available resource whilst also planning for its long-term future.’
“However, the draft Island Plan contradicts the findings of the consultants. It has left the company wondering why the Minister would safeguard the quarry site for mineral extraction but then choose not to support the company in continuing to do so.
“Given Government's aspiration to create 4,000-plus properties for the island, this policy makes no sense to the company who will be making its representations to the draft bridging policy in due course.”
As well as recommend the quarry’s closure, the draft Island Plan also calls for it to be restored to a dune landscape by 2026.
One option is to keep the pond and create a marine habitat. However, the water is contaminated with a man-made chemical called PFOS, which many argue is harmful to human health, and has leached from the Airport, where it was an ingredient in fire-fighting foam.
The bridging Island Plan does not earmark the quarry, which sits in the Coastal National Park, as a site to tip inert waste such as building rubble. La Gigoulande quarry in St Peter’s Valley has, however, been identified as a suitable site once the La Collette reclamation is full.
The Government has been approached for comment.
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