A collective responsibility

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From John Mesch.

MIKE Stentiford, the new president of the National Trust for Jersey, was absolutely correct when he wrote congratulating Environment and Planning Minister Freddie Cohen for making a morally correct decision when he turned down the application to build a modern estate of 36 houses at Plémont.

The minister’s courageous decision now serves to highlight the wider issue of the collective responsibility of the States of Jersey.

The part of our coast from L’Etacq to Plémont, which includes the headland on which the derelict holiday camp now stands, is extraordinary and unique and as such is one of Jersey’s greatest assets.

Apart from its obvious scenic beauty and wide range of flora and fauna already designated as a Site of Special Interest, it is remarkable in the number and quality of its archaeological and historical sites such as La Cotte à la Chèvre (the second of the Island’s two Palaeolithic sites and in plain view of the holiday camp), the multi-period Le Pinacle (particularly noted for its Neolithic axe factory and its Gallo-Roman temple), ruined Grosnez Castle built in the 14th century, the German fortifications system of the Second World War including Batterie Mölke and its fire control tower plus a first class range of geological features.

These together comprise a truly wonderful and historic landscape clearly shown on the Duke of Richmond map drawn in 1795. It can be argued that this unique combination constitutes a heritage and tourism asset that is, to use the hackneyed description, world class.

Having approved the new Jersey Panning Law in July 2006 every member of the States shares a legal and moral responsibility to uphold it.

The law has, as its very purpose (Article 2): ‘To conserve, protect and improve the Island’s natural beauty’ and ‘to ensure that the coast is kept in its natural state’.

In addition the minister and members of his Planning committee have a further legal responsibility included in the Island Plan to promote the ‘restoration of the Island’s countryside character’.

The only way of achieving both these legal imperatives is for the States to acquire the land on behalf of the public and remove the hideous blot on the historic and beautiful landscape created by the derelict holiday-camp buildings. The headland can then be restored to nature. At the public hearing for the application it was indicated that the owner would be open to such a proposal.

It is absolutely clear that the present planning law should be used to preserve this priceless section of our coast for the benefit of future generations. Failure to do so will demonstrate a serious lack of political will in safeguarding that which is truly important in the Island.

Anneville Lodge,

Mont des Landes,

St Martin.

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