Scrutiny calls for “greater resilience”
16th February 2023
Yesterday, the Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel (the Panel) held a Public Quarterly Hearing with the Minister for Infrastructure, Deputy Tom Binet.
The Panel questioned the Minister on flood mitigation at Grands Vaux. The Panel heard that the amount of rainfall during the flooding would have far exceeded the maximum capacity of the reservoir, even if the reservoir had been empty. A Recovery Coordination Group has been set up under emergency planning protocols comprising of Jersey Water, the Parishes, the Infrastructure, Housing and Environment department and Andium Homes. The group is working collaboratively to produce an assessment report, which will look at "immediate short-term measures and medium- and longer-term ways of water management".
The Panel also raised concerns that not enough is being done to mitigate growing levels of sea lettuce in St Aubin's Bay. The Minister told the Panel that no further plans have been put in place since September 2022 to mitigate sea lettuce growth. He also explained the amount of sea lettuce would be unlikely to decrease even if the Island stopped using nitrates, as nitrate levels are the same close to the shore as they are in the rest of the Bay of St Malo.
The Panel also heard:
- The liquid waste drainage network is at full capacity and plans for affordable housing developments will have to be staggered due to pressure on the network.
- An estimated £40 million will be required to fund the Liquid Waste Strategy, which will likely be implemented over a longer time period than '4 years' originally mentioned.
- The Minister hopes to bring forward proposals for coastal defences by the end of the year.
- Long term water management will be a priority for the department, with particular emphasis being given to the areas of Grands Vaux and the southern sea defences.
Deputy Steve Luce, Chair of the Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Panel, said: 'I echo the Minister's words when he said ''we have to become more resilient as an Island". It is clear from the recent incidents at Grands Vaux and from the Minister's responses to the Panel's questions that we have a very real and growing problem of flooding and liquid waste management in Jersey. The Panel will be closely monitoring which steps are being taken to put in place a more robust framework for resilience, both in the short and long term.'
A full recording of the public hearing can be watched here
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