Toxic waste issue a ‘massive risk’ to Jersey's housing plans

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PLANS to deliver thousands of new homes across the Island could be at ‘massive risk’ unless an urgent solution to the Island’s toxic waste mountain is found, the Housing Minister has warned.

The Jersey Development Company’s scheme for the Waterfront, which includes 984 flats, suffered a major setback after the Planning Department said it could not support the application as there was nowhere to put the 237,437m3 of contaminated waste that would be dug out of the area to create underground parking and service space.

And Housing Minister David Warr said if the project cannot go ahead, the ‘ripple effect’ across the entire construction industry could damage other major housing projects.

A 2019 report into the Island’s future housing requirements found that almost 7,000 additional homes – the equivalent to a new small town – would be needed by 2030.

Although the decision on whether to grant approval for the JDC’s Waterfront scheme, which also includes new leisure and arts facilities, swimming pools and an arthouse cinema, will ultimately rest with the Environment Minister, the thoughts of the Island’s planning authority will be taken into account.

Deputy Warr stressed that the issue of toxic waste build-up at La Collette had not been addressed by successive governments over the past decade, but that it now presented an immediate problem and was ‘something we urgently need to get our heads around’.

‘It has reached a very extreme situation and we have to come up with a good plan – and very quickly. It’s a massive risk to the delivery [of homes] especially as we have such an active construction industry,’ he continued, noting that the wider impact felt by firms following the collapse of Camerons could be replicated if the JDC could not proceed with the Waterfront project.

‘This is an equivalent scenario in that it could cause a ripple effect,’ he added.

Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet has pledged to come up with a long-term plan, after the Planning Committee opted not to formally ratify its refusal to allow giant mounds of toxic waste to be added to at La Collette for at least six months – meaning the piles of waste can continue to grow at the site while a solution is developed.

In 2021, former Environment Minister John Young warned that the toxic waste materials within the scope of the proposed Waterfront development would need to be looked at when deciding what to do with the area – as it would have to be subject to a ‘robust waste-management plan and regulatory checks’ to avoid pollution.

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