PLANS to send more than 100,000 cubic metres of contaminated waste from the Waterfront to La Collette are ‘incredibly messy’ and riddled with ‘huge uncertainty’, an independent inspector assessing a project to build nearly 1,000 homes has concluded.
Philip Staddon is hearing evidence this week on Jersey Development Company plans to build flats, offices, shops, restaurants and public spaces on reclaimed land between the underpass and West Park.
However, the Planning Department is opposing the scheme, principally on the basis that there is currently no space in the Island to deal with the waste that will be generated.
It estimates that 240,000m3 of material – enough to fill 96 Olympic-sized swimming pools – will need to be excavated to create basement parking, of which 113,000m3 will be contaminated, so will need to go to the Island’s only hazardous waste site at La Collette.
However, the Planning Department say that until further tests are carried out, all 240,000m3 should be regarded as contaminated. But even if the lower figure is accurate, the La Collette waste management site is currently full. Additionally, there is no planning permission to expand the site, nor is there official approval for the mounds of waste that have already been created.
The inquiry heard that Planning had only discovered that the Infrastructure Department had added 16m of waste to a headland on contaminated soil last year when it began to assess a planning application first lodged in 2016.
It means that the site had been operating for several years without permission.
Hearing this, Mr Staddon asked the government’s head of waste regulation, David Monks: ‘Building 16m up without planning permission is extraordinary. How was this allowed to happen? If this was a private developer, surely you would be on to them straight away?’
Mr Monks replied: ‘Yes, if someone was doing waste activity without planning permission or a waste management licence, as a regulator, you would ask “what is happening here?”.’
However, Mr Monks added that the La Collette site did have a valid waste management licence because the building of the waste mounds pre-dated the waste management law.
He added that the site had a planning permission from 2015 to handle asbestos.
Mr Staddon is trying to assess whether the expected contaminated spoil could be processed and stored, either at La Collette or somewhere else.
The Planning Committee, which determines larger and more controversial applications, refused the 2016 application in March, although they have delayed ratification of their decision by six months, allowing the Infrastructure Department to draft a long-term plan.
The group of politicians is due to rule on a new application seeking retrospective approval for the 16m of extra height to the waste mounds, which currently sit at 30m above mean sea level to the east of the La Collette reclamation, in September.
Mr Staddon told the inquiry: ‘This is incredibly messy. There is huge uncertainty from a planning perspective about where the 113,000m3 of waste will go, although that may change in the future.’