While our harbours have adapted over the years, in many respects they were never designed for their current uses. Therefore in 2019, Guernsey Ports began a project to identify the island's long-term requirements, and how these might best be met.
Much of the infrastructure is more than 150 years old, and in need of substantial repair and modernisation. It is estimated that around £35 million is required to address the condition of the current facilities. Some port activities may also no longer be best located.
The most urgent requirement for St Sampson's Harbour is to address the risks associated with the way fuels are imported. This could also free up areas around the current port for other development.
Besides the harbour, St Peter Port is a centre for business and retail, as well as a focal point for recreation, social and leisure pursuits. All these different uses are very welcome, but bring competition for space and other conflicts, both on land and on sea. As in the Vale and St Sampson, addressing some of these issues could free up important areas for other uses.
More widely, both harbours have implications for the enhancement of the wider waterfront area, as well as developing the island's 'Blue Economy', offering valuable opportunities to expand our maritime leisure activities and attract more visitors.
Various options have been considered to accommodate all the different activities which the ports currently accommodate. They include rearranging or expanding St Peter Port Harbour, or relocating some current activities, potentially to a new port facility that could also address the challenges at St Sampson.
These also present opportunities to create new, better facilities for the leisure marine industry, and free up space for other development - unlocking potential benefits that extend far beyond the harbours themselves.
Before considering potential solutions, a detailed analysis of harbour requirements was carried out. This had extensive input from current port users, from both the commercial and leisure sectors, and forecast demand for all the different port activities up to 2050. This was then used to identify how much space will be required in future to carry out all these port operations safely and efficiently, and meet regulatory requirements. Everything from the length and number of berths needed to unload and store cargo, to the land-based requirements for incoming and outgoing vehicles and trailers.
Having established the requirements, the focus then turned on how and where these can best be accommodated. Options considered ranged from basic refurbishment of the existing infrastructure at both harbours, to the construction of completely new port developments, in new locations.
The seven combinations
Gradually, the long list of options was refined until a number of viable solutions emerged. Each one represents a combination of complementary elements, such that the needs of all sectors are catered for somewhere. These 'Combinations' are described in more detail in the pages below:-