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Statement by the President of the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure

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Wednesday 16 May 2018

General update from the Committee


I would like to take this opportunity to update the Assembly focussing on two themes in particular.

Firstly to raise awareness of how the Committee is working in partnership with the community to deliver its mandate and secondly, to inform Members of the Committee's plans over the next 6 months or so.

E&I announced at the end of last week that the funding set aside for the e-bike subsidy scheme was completed less than a month after the campaign was launched. This has been a very effective public private partnership between the States and the private sector which has resulted in almost 370 E- bikes being purchased. On behalf of the Committee I would like to thank the retailers, for their contribution to the subsidy and their support for this initiative to promote the use of electric bikes as an alternative to the car. This is of course the first step and we will now be working with the owners of the e-bikes to monitor the impact of this intervention through regular surveys over the coming 12 months to see if the benefits of E-bikes are realised, reduction in traffic congestion on our roads, improved health and activity levels and of course reduced emissions from on-island transportation. We will continue to keep Members and the community informed of the outcomes as information becomes available.

Staying with Traffic & Highway Services we continue to build close links with organisations representing vulnerable road users such as Living Streets, Guernsey Bicycle Group, Guernsey Disability Alliance and Access for All which means that proposals for changes can be comprehensively considered prior to be being recommended for implementation. We are indebted for their assistance an input to the Committee's deliberations.

Another set of key stakeholders that we continue to work with are the parishes and again we work closely with them for example targeting road cleaning in those areas identified by the parish. More recently we have found ourselves working with parishes with respect to changes to the public realm at the bottom of Les Val de Terres and traffic safety measures in St Julian's Avenue.

We are currently working with the Taxi Federation to introduce a trial in the use of technology to reduce emissions, in short a gadget to enhance fuel efficiency.

The La Vallette area is a good example of the Committee's wide mandate, and presents a real opportunity for partnering.

We have seen some truly remarkable restoration work from the public and private business under the leadership of the Floral Guernsey group (itself a ground-breaking cross committee partnership established over 20 years ago) over the last year or more. E&I are keen to pursue the idea of an Amenity Development Area alongside the States Trading & Supervisory Board and Floral Guernsey to try and extend the work done on the Promenade Terrace, Gent's Pool and Horseshoe Pool more widely in this area. This is a work in progress but one to which my Committee is committed and wishes to maximise the value of the severely limited budget we have available.

One longstanding partnership that my Committee has been pleased to see continue is that with the Island's dairy farmers. Notwithstanding the changes of political responsibility introduced by the SRC recommendations in mid-2016 - where the Dairy moved into the orbit of the States Trading Supervisory Board - the current basis for this relationship was established in 2014 when the States accepted a complete package of measures to confirm the way that the States and the dairy industry would continue to work together to protect and improve the breed and the market for milk as well as care for the farmed environment.

This year we have seen the reduction of a long delivered service as a mutually beneficial outcome of working together, in that, following extensive consultation, the States-run Artificial Insemination service has been curtailed and will close completely at the end of the year. This has been achieved by the provision of expert training and some start up support from the Committee, and as a result the Island has a group of some 30 farmers and farm workers now able to do this work themselves giving greater resilience to the industry and at the same time cutting costs and facilitating better conception rates than a stretched, centralised system could produce. I was pleased to meet a delegation of farmers from Kosovo, who use the Guernsey Herd recording methods to secure more efficient and sustainable farming methods in their emerging recovering industry.

As part of the States Biodiversity Strategy we are also working with La Société Guernesiaise's on the Pollinator Project - an initiative - was launched in 2017 with the key aim of raising awareness of the genuine contribution we can all make to the enhancement of Guernsey's biodiversity by providing food and habitats for pollinators. The Project is working with schools, businesses, government departments and community groups to enhance urban and domestic areas which often support a diverse range of habitats that are becoming increasingly important for many species of pollinators, when managed properly. These include: public and private gardens; natural areas in school grounds, sports pitches and golf courses; parks and patches of formal landscaping, such as flower beds and roundabouts and on business premises; brownfield land and industrial estates. This important project is supported by a grant from the Biodiversity Strategy, as well as financial support from businesses in the private sector.

La Societe is just one of the third sector partners we work with and the Pollinator Project is just one of the projects supported by a grant from the strategy. We are now seeing the real benefits of resources co-ordinating and galvanising States and third sector efforts to maximise their collective impact.

In February, a local 11 year old approached and presented to the Committee expressing her passion for a popular national environmental "Refill" scheme. As a result, Guernsey Water and Guernsey Waste/ Recycle for Guernsey committed to support her vision and approached local organisation, Plastic Free Guernsey to form a partnership. Already a success in the UK, the initiative aims to make refilling reusable bottles with water easy, convenient and free by introducing local businesses as 'refill stations', reducing the use of single-use plastics. We look forward to this launching in the next few weeks.

We recognise we can deliver better services and better outcomes by commissioning and working in partnership with the community we serve. It is a principle and way of working that will become even more important in the years ahead.

I will now briefly touch on some of the key workstreams that the Committee will be bringing forward in the short term.

As we speak we are currently finalising our report on KPMG's Review of the housing market and we intend to publish this in June for debate at the July meeting of the States of Deliberation. This will be a multi-faceted report with a number of workstreams to take forward by E&I, ESS and P&R.

The Committee will be publishing a Policy Letter at the end of the year reviewing the progress with the implementation of the Integrated Transport Strategy. Officers are currently collating a wealth of quantitative data (bus passenger numbers etc) to help inform the policy letter. The Committee also wishes to consult with the public on perceptions road safety in Guernsey which will help inform the recommendations for the future. The Committee considers road safety issues to be extremely important and is its highest priority in terms of key transport policy aims and objectives over the next two to three years.

The trial initiative to reduce nuisance parking in our coastal car parks was successful to an extent, but because a few people persist in selling vehicles from this public land we now have to pursue the more costly and time-consuming option of legislating against the practice. In the meantime, we hope the Police will do what they can to enforce the existing laws, which as we saw with the Vale Church car park can be effective in reducing other forms of nuisance parking such as abandoned vehicles.

In the next few months we should have completed the development of Travel Plans for Sir Charles Frossard House and also the Princess Elizabeth Hospital - these will help us in the preparation of the Policy Letter.

We will also be coming back to this Assembly in the coming months with a policy letter updating members on progress with the Hydrocarbons Supply chain and seeking endorsement on the next steps. This will be feeding into and informing the development of the update and review of the current Energy Policy. Again allied to this the Committee is working closely with P&R on the 2019 Budget in order to implement the Roffey Amendment.

Brexit is of course looming large over many of the Committees and our Committee is no different. We have established a Brexit Working Group that monitors progress and the many workstrreams that flow out of Brexit. We will keep this Assembly and the wider community informed of progress as the uncertainties become resolved, but the early indications are that we may have to make some significant changes.

Following the States decision earlier this year we have been able to move quickly to the procurement stage of Phase 2 of the Bus Replacement programme and the next wave of new buses will start appearing from September of this year.

I am grateful for the opportunity to provide this Assembly with an update and all I have been able to do is give a feel for the range of current and planned activities and workstreams. Members can be assured that we will continue to work tirelessly to deliver our mandate and support the Policy & Resource Plan priorities for the benefit of our island community.

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