Today saw an oral question from Senator Sarah Ferguson (plus supplementaries from Deputies Andrew Lewis and Monford Tadier) on the levels of nitrates being discharged from the Bellozanne sewage effluent outflow into St Aubin’s Bay and the legality of the levels. So far the States have denied it is a problem, but we say it is the main source of the nitrates causing the sea lettuce blooms that have unhappily become all too familiar over recent years.
Having listened to the exchanges this morning on this subject, it is obvious that the Minister of Department for Infrastructure (DfI) still takes the view that over 80% of the sea lettuce is caused by nitrates coming in from France, and takes no responsibility for his Department’s breaking of the law for many years.
On the plus side, however:
– Eddie Noel finally confirmed that our figures in this regard are correct! (This was after accusing us of using flawed data… except the data we used for our reports were those collected by the States, which we were able to see after a Freedom of Information request.)
– Eddie Noel has said on record (see the end of the video below) that he accepts the study on which the States based their shruggy-the-nitrates-come-from-France-and-we-can-do-nothing-about-it responses was limited and he has ordered more data be collected
On the minus side, if you listen to his responses, the department clearly are not taking responsibility for the mess we are in.
The States have known it all along
Watch the video and you’ll see Eddie Noel saying the excess nitrogen levels in the Bellozanne outflow have always been known…
You’ll also see him blaming the problem on everyone else.
SOS Jersey have spent a huge amount of time and resources (at no cost to the public or the States) confirming the Environment Department’s own figures on the effluent discharges, paying for independent testing and also charting the growth of the lettuce which clearly stems from the 18 million gallons of nitrate-rich effluent pumped daily onto the beach.
Our evidence is beyond doubt, and it is, we feel, unnecessary for the Minister to keep making these claims in the face of hard evidence.
Far better to come clean, admit there is a problem, and start working with groups such as ours, rather than try to belittle our concerns and findings in order to save face/not have to take action.
Is breaking the law acceptable?
When private individuals and businesses would be immediately taken to court and fined for pollution if they poured just a litre or so of pollutant down the drain, we wonder:
Why it is acceptable for a States Department to break the law daily
What is the point of having discharge permits in place if they are ignored?
What is the point of having an Environmental Regulator at all if he can’t or won’t regulate?
St Aubin’s Bay is becoming unhealthier every year and the sea lettuce is harming the economy. Nearly all the tourists we spoke with told us that they will not return.
Regarding the population issue (the root cause of the problem), Deputy Noel recently told us that ‘There is nothing that can be done about the population.’ This is the nub of the problem and it is clear that the Council of Ministers (COM) have no policy and don’t want one.
Deputy Noel did not answer a question asked this morning on population policy and the COM continue to avoid this issue.