Sunday, 17 July 2011

Goodbye green and pleasant Island?

Trawling through past JEP stories, actually looking for an obituary (which I found) for Constance Brown, I came across a full page advertisement on Friday 30th July, 1984.

It is a call from "Concern" for people to join and support their aim to look at alternatives to solving social problems in ways other than growth. The need for a population cap has been voted on and lost in the States this week, but will they face the consequences of their vote. For as Concern noted in 1984:

Every new resident has to be supplied with housing, water, hospital facilities and all the other amenities and service required by civilised society.

You would think that "joined up thinking" (which we hear so much about in the States) meant considering that! We are always being told that services - such as health, social security, education etc must be linked in economic terms with taxes - if you increase costs, you increase taxes needed - but this linkage is broken when immigration is considered. Now I'm not saying that immigration is a wholly bad thing - more than half of my friends came and settled in Jersey - but we must be aware of the consequences to infrastructure.

I pointed this out in a letter published in the JEP in 2001 when Mr David Boleat was suggesting a population of 120,000 would be quite possible, and even desirable.

The recent comments by David Boleat on population controls focus on the issue of numbers to the exclusion of other considerations. While it is entirely possible in terms of land area (with re-zoning) for an increase in population, any large increase will impact significantly on the Island's infrastructure.

In particular, an increase in population will lead to an increase in demands upon services such as waste disposal, sewage treatment, electricity consumption and water consumption. There must be physical limits to growth set by the capacity of these services, and this does not seem to have emerged in Mr Boleat's one-dimensional analysis.

Then there are the increased demands of education, health services, traffic and parking. Clearly the Island can invest heavily to bring these in line with the increases in population of up to 120,000 envisaged by Mr Boleat, but with the Financial Services attempting to make cut-backs in the economy, anti-inflationary measures and budgetary restraint of States spending, it is uncertain where funding would be found.

Perhaps the next time Mr Boleat wishes to pontificate from afar on the impossibility of population growth, he could address these related problems as well.

Incidentally, the permanent population of Jersey as at the March 2001 census was 87,186.

So here, back in 1984, is a very prophetic voice:

Goodbye green and pleasant Island?
Dear Jersey resident,
Are you worried about the extent of the environmental destruction which Jersey has suffered during the past few years? Then I must offer you one more unpalatable fact: the destruction will continue and probably accelerate, unless a determined effort is made to change some current policies.
What can you do? You can help us to persuade our administrators to change direction.
We invite your support a campaign which will include the November elections, and which will attempt to convince those who make decisions which have a fundamental effect on the quality of our lives that are large and growing number of islanders have come to the conclusion that enough is enough!
We have enough people, there are enough cars, there is enough noise, we have enough multi-stories, there are enough reservoirs, we have lost enough good land development and are more than enough consequential social problems.
CONCERN has no ambitions whatsoever to become a political party, but it has every intention to give full support to those politicians who unwaveringly believe that Jersey's remaining peace, beauty and uniqueness of character is sacrosanct. We invite you to participate in the kind of influence which is apparently now only enjoyed by the disciples of growth. Can there be a more worthy cause and to attempt to preserve quality of life which would like our children and their children to enjoy?
If you share our concern, please do not delay action. Please respond today. Together we can keep Jersey green and pleasant.
Cyd Le Bail
Chairman, CONCERN
Saving the countryside
Concern's survey showed that in the years 1965 to 1980 about 1,500 vergées of open land had been sacrificed building development. In the 50 years to 1980, nearly a fifth of our farmland has been lost. Development is rapidly destroying the character Jersey's countryside. Have the right to destroy the island's only natural sources in this way? Have not had children the right to enjoy the heritage be held in custody for them?
Stemming the tide of traffic.
In 1961, the States instructed the Defence Committee to find ways of restricting the number of cars on the islands roads to about 20,000. Between 1961 and 1984, miles of roads were widened, a tunnel was constructed and four multi-storey car parks were erected. There are now 38,000 private cars on our roads. The Public Works committee estimate that by 1992, if the population has reached 80,000, there will be a further 6,700 cars in the islands, bring the total private cars are known to around 45,000. Do we really want 1,000 cars every square mile of the Island's surface? Do we have the will to accept the some restraint?
Keeping down pollution
The Island's water supply is already contained levels of nitrates at or above accepted EEC limits. Noise from motorcycles, aircraft, and transistor radios on the beaches has already reached levels fell to be intolerable by many islanders. Nuclear installations on the adjacent French coast have the potential to destroy the Island's tourism, fishing and agricultural industries, or worse. Little or nothing is being done about such problems at present. Do we wish that something be done about such threats and nuisances?
Rescuing our most beautiful valley.?
An extra reservoir is needed only if the population of the Island rises above 80,000. The Jersey New Waterworks Company has told us: "The course of action to be followed will depend upon confidence in the ability of the States to hold the population down to approximately 80,000. If this were the case the requirements could be met by metering and a constant small improvements brought online every year."(Report on Water Demands and Resources, 1981) As it is stated policy that the population should not rise above 80,000 wide, do we need a new reservoir?
Halting population growth
Present State's policy is to allow the population of the island to rise by up to 1,000 new residents every four years.
Every new resident has to be supplied with housing, water, hospital facilities and all the other amenities and service required by civilised society.
How can we hope to protect our countryside if we have to house so many new residents?
How can we adequately house our existing residence in the face of such pressure?
How can we hope to stem the rising tide of traffic when the number of people likely to use cars is allowed to increase?
Can any of our major problems be solved if we continue to add them so rapidly?
JEP, 1984


Anonymous said...

How many deaths and how many leave each year?

James said...

The stats for births and deaths in Jersey are here. There is a fairly consistent 250-300 excess of births over deaths.

Leaver statistics are difficult to establish.

One component of leavers, however, is those leaving school to pursue higher education. Based on the plans of the 215-odd leavers of Hautlieu this year, I'd imagine about a half of them will leave the island and not return to live here. Extrapolating wildly to cover the other four sixth forms, I'd suggest something of the order of 400 leavers from that source alone.

TonyTheProf said...

My next post will be on Malthusianism and its consequences for the 21st century.

Nick Le Cornu said...


Could we have a blog on Constance Brown. I remember her as a child down at St Brelade, running deck chairs and saving lives. All very posh and "Jolly hockey sticks".

She kept a fine physique even as an old lady and pursued the cult of the body beautiful.I suspect she was Gay.

TonyTheProf said...

I'm researching for a piece for the Parish magazine, but turned up more than 400 words so far, so it will be condensed. Much more will appear here after it has appeared there.