Welcome to Jersey. Which of these facts says more about the island in mid-April, 2023? First up: the fact that we have a growing dump of toxic waste steadily accumulating right on the island’s doorstep.
Fact number two – that the toxic waste dump doesn’t have any permission from the government to be there, and is actually being dumped there by a government department.
Or, maybe the winner is fact number three: that this specific issue (the lack of formal planning permission) has been bouncing around the corridors of power since at least 2016, and today it was parked for another six months.
Perhaps you prefer our fourth and final fact: the Infrastructure Minister commented today: “We will continue our work to prepare short- to medium-term proposals and then a long-term solution that looks much further into the future.”
To put it another way…the dumping of toxic waste on the island’s waterfront has been a deeply controversial issue for more than two decades now, and we still don’t have any short, medium or long-term solutions.
Or maybe it’s better phrased like this: although the accumulation of toxic waste is entirely foreseeable, measurable and quantifiable, and so we have known in detail about the steadily growing problem for very many years...yet there is still no viable plan for dealing with it.
It’s hard to believe there are many harsher indictments of Jersey in mid-April, 2023, than that.
Remember it, next time you read about the island’s clean sea water; remember it, next time you read about how much we love and care for our island home; remember it, next time you read about the warm welcome we offer to visitors, which currently juxtaposes an illegal toxic waste dump, with the sweeping majesty of Elizabeth Castle.
Pictured: the gateway to St.Helier, from the sea.
Sometimes a single issue pulls together diverse strands of the same narrative. What are those strands here?
A serious problem which has been many years in the making, but which still has no solution. A government system which acts as both poacher and gamekeeper. The lack of resolution to an issue which is repeatedly flagged up by islanders as a real worry – and then surprise when voters choose not to engage. The continued lack of a meaningful debate about population growth/decline, and so getting stuck in the rut of more people = more homes + more waste.
These debates have been echoing around the island since the turn of the millennium (at least), a period of time which has seen new government systems + structures, many new government Chief Executives, a critical department which has had more names than the phone book, billions of pounds in public spending and a steady procession of new Chief Officers.
Yet here we are. More toxic waste, nowhere to put it, a problem getting worse with every new load and no plan for resolving it.
We can’t say we didn’t know; we did. We can’t say it didn’t happen on our watch; it did. We can’t say we solved the problem…we haven't.
What will future generations say about that?