In 2015, the foreshore (defined as the land surrounding Jersey, lying between the "High Water Mark of full Spring Tide" and the Lowest Mark of Tide") was gifted from the Crown to the public of Jersey. Since the time of transfer, Jersey Property Holdings (under the ministerial remit of the Minister for Infrastructure) has sought encroachment compensation payments from a number of property owners along the foreshore. The sale of a property has typically been the trigger point for collection of these payments, in addition to planning consent applications or an approach made by a property owner to Jersey Property Holdings.
In June 2018 one of the findings of a Complaints Board hearing called on the Minister for Infrastructure to set out a clear, fair and transparent policy in respect of foreshore encroachment payments. The Board also found that how the Complainants were treated by JPH was "unjust, oppressive or improperly discriminatory and were contrary to the generally accepted principles of natural justice" under the Administrative Decisions (Review) (Jersey) Law 1982.
The Minister for Infrastructure largely dismissed the findings of the Complaints Board in his response. However, it was agreed that a review would be undertaken to re-assess the foreshore encroachment policy and, subject to the outcome of the review, issue a revised policy. In conjunction with this, the Minister also contracted the Law Officers' Department to conduct a landside boundary review in order to define the boundary of the foreshore. This review has now been undertaken over the last 2 years and the Minister has lodged a revised policy: P.111/2020 Encroachments on the Foreshore: revised policy, which is due for States debate on 19th January 2021.
The following key issues have emerged:
- The foreshore encroachment policy affects over 400 property owners and concerns have been raised as to the fairness of the policy and its application.
- The foreshore boundary has historically been very difficult to define. A landside boundary project has been undertaken by JPH and the Law Officers' Department, in order to determine a default boundary line.
- Some property owners have been required to make payments for encroachments that predated their ownership.
- Some property owners have received planning consent for alleged encroachments which required consent from the Receiver General, yet they were still required to pay a compensation payment.
- The Panel has been made aware that JPH has, in at least once instance, charged a property owner for a valuation for more than it cost to undertake. Whilst the Panel will not seek to comment on individual cases the above examples will assist the Panel in being able to determine whether, overall, the revised policy is fair to those who it will affect.
- Encroachments, depending on their scale and nature, might have interfered with sea defences or hinder their ongoing maintenance.