Landmark debate over Jersey wind farm to begin today

1091442722 (37867136)

A LANDMARK debate which could pave the way for wind power in Jersey’s territorial waters is due to begin today.

It has been six months since former Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf lodged proposals for an offshore wind farm which could generate between seven or eight times the Island’s current electricity demand and require at least £1 billion of private investment without taxpayer subsidies.

A public consultation was launched shortly after to gain Islanders’ views, and the results showing strong support were released late last month.

Of the 97% of respondents who provided their “current opinion” about developing a wind farm in Jersey waters, the report stated that the majority (71.8%) were “positive” while 23.5% were “negative” and 4.7% of responses were neither for nor against the proposal.

Environment Minister Steve Luce has since thrown his backing behind the development, which he said would provide “lots of opportunities”, but he cautioned that there were still hurdles to overcome, including how the wind farm would be funded.

Former Housing Minister David Warr has lodged an amendment calling for Jersey Electricity to become a partner in the government’s wind-farm proposals.

He said he wanted Jersey Electricity to be involved “during all stages of the development of an offshore wind farm, including but not limited to the establishment of processes for engaging third-party developers, and the utilisation of the company’s sector knowledge, expertise and French contractual relationships to ensure that risks are managed appropriately”.

If adopted, Deputy Warr’s amendment would introduce a new paragraph into the proposition, giving the JEC a formal role in the development of plans for any offshore wind farm.

He argued that this would bring “the best people” together in the same room.

If passed, the Council of Ministers will then have to bring forward appropriate policy and legislation before the end of 2024 to set in place a process to lease, provide consent for, regulate and safely decommission a wind farm.

Speaking to the JEP recently, JE chief executive Chris Ambler said that leasing Jersey’s seabed for the development and operation of a wind farm was the “lowest risk opportunity” for the Island.

Given the project’s potential cost of between two and three billion pounds, Mr Ambler said it would be “unrealistic” for local stakeholders to make a “meaningful investment” in terms of taking an ownership interest in the scheme.

Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel has spoken about how an offshore wind farm would be both an attractive and realistic project for increasing government income, offering a viable option to raise the revenue required to meet the Island’s “demographic challenges”.

Representing the other side of the debate, UK energy analyst and director of the charity Renewable Energy Foundation Dr John Constable claimed in the JEP last week that economic evidence showed that wind power should be avoided in small jurisdictions like Jersey.

The Société Jersiaise Ornithology Section has also said the proposals were of “great concern” and that there was a risk of “blade collisions” and “an adverse effect” on regular migration routes.

Dr Mark Leybourne, an Islander who has worked in the offshore wind industry for the past 16 years, has responded to these concerns in several blog posts.

Commenting in today’s JEP, Dr Leybourne said that offshore wind development required “careful planning and analysis” and added that experiences from France and projects elsewhere in Europe would help ensure that “a project in Jersey’s waters can be designed to maximise any beneficial effects, while minimising any potential impact risks”.

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –