TAXPAYERS will have to provide ‘big sums of money’ to upgrade the Island’s creaking drainage network but there are no immediate plans to introduce new charges for Islanders, the Infrastructure Minister has said.
Deputy Tom Binet added that inaction by previous administrations meant that the Island was now ‘looking down the barrel of a gun’ in the sense that its drains and 110 pumping stations were at or very near capacity.
While ‘there would not be sewage flowing through the streets’, he said, some property owners or developers wishing to connect to mains drains were currently being told they could not because of the extra load on the network.
The government has no legal responsibility to accept new additions to the network and households must pay for their own connections, where possible, or install tight tanks, package plants, pumping stations or other methods of disposal, when not.
Speaking at a Scrutiny hearing yesterday, Deputy Binet explained more about his department’s recently published Bridging Liquid Waste Strategy, which proposes spending £34 million on infrastructure over the next four years to ‘avoid catastrophic failures and help battle against climate change and population growth’.
The St Saviour Deputy told the Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel he had received assurances that the Treasury would provide the required funding for the next 12 to 18 months, subject to approval by the Assembly in December’s Government Plan debate.
Giving a blunt appraisal of the options, he said: ‘The work has to be done, it has to be paid for, and we have to have the money.’
Deputy Binet said that there were no plans to introduce new charges for liquid-waste disposal – something that has been proposed in the past. However, he added that over the long term, raising revenue through taxation might be considered, although it would ultimately be for the States to decide.
The highest priorities in the strategy include replacing the First Tower rising main, which pumps sewage to the nearby Bellozanne Treatment Works, upgrading the north and east sewerage networks, building storage tanks in the west and on West Hill, and building new rising mains at Le Dicq.
Funding is due to be debated as part of the next Government Plan, which will cover public spending from 2024 to the end of 2027.
The panel heard that the new £83.3m treatment works at Bellozanne was on course to open by the end of this year. The latest analysis also showed that the operational costs of the plant were less than first envisaged.