Call for a big environment push on protest anniversary

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Mike Stentiford made the call at the 18th annual Inter-Island Environment Meeting, which is taking place at Crabbé.

He said A Line in the Sand – when almost 7,000 Islanders formed a human chain along St Ouen’s Bay in October 2009 to protest against excessive coastal development – was instrumental in forcing a change of attitude about the environment in the States.

Hailed as Jersey’s largest ever peaceful demonstration, the line of Islanders standing arm-in-arm stretched from Le Braye to L’Etacq.

At the time, several coastal areas were under threat, with luxury housing developments proposed on Plémont headland, Wolf’s Caves and the east coast and the controversial Portelet development already under way.

‘If you look at the aerial photographs, it really was quite a statement that we made,’ Mr Stentiford said. ‘What came after that, was the minister at the time said, “we know people care, we have to do something about it”.

‘We came up with the idea of having a coastal national park.’

The National Park now covers 1,900 hectares – 16 per cent of the Island’s land mass – and any development within it is strictly regulated by Planning.

‘With the tenth-year anniversary coming up, I think it will be a wonderful opportunity for the States of Jersey to say, “let’s have a big environmental success story”,’ said the 82-year-old conservationist, ‘because we have not had one for quite a long time and that, of course, was the saving of Plémont.

‘The last one was in the 1970s – the remarkable restoration of St Ouen’s Bay, from a rubbish tip to what we have now, a very special place.

‘Can we emulate that? Really, really go powerful – put the environment up on the political agenda because it has been off the agenda for far too long.’

Mr Stentiford said that in order for the National Park to grow it will need more support and they are currently in meetings with Environment Minister John Young to get a board established.

‘We have said this so many times before. We have been literally over-run with various groups wanting to do this and that,’ he said. ‘At the moment, we cannot cope with it. We do need a board – stakeholders – to get things moving, to make things happen.

‘There is lots to do. I just hope I can stick in there long enough to see the end of it.’

More than 60 delegates from Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and UK governments, conservation groups and NGOs are participating in two days of meetings.

They hope to draft an environmental charter for the Channel Islands and set concrete goals for protecting nature in the Bailiwicks.

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