Clean water campaigners Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) are supporting the Public Services Department proposal for first time wastewater charges to be introduced in Guernsey.
The Public Services Department proposal could be agreed at the States meeting in January making ‘full sewage treatment’ a real possibility for Guernsey.
SAS have been campaigning for full sewage treatment in Guernsey since 2004, yet despite several close calls the Government have yet to commit to a modern and efficient treatment plant that would end the daily discharge of raw sewage to Bellegreve Bay.
Wastewater charges have helped countries like the UK deliver a massive coastal clean up as new technologies can ‘make safe’ sewage effluent before it is discharged back to the sea. These technologies have not only restored faith in the quality of coastal water amongst those that use the ocean most, such as surfers, but have also led to local business expansion as visitors now return year on year to resorts that were previously ‘no go zones’ due to sewage pollution.
SAS believe a wastewater charge could be the saviour of a Guernsey tourist industry, which is becoming increasingly vulnerable to large-scale sewage pollution incidents, such as the one that led to the August 2008 island-wide beach closures.
SAS re-iterated the need for a wastewater charge when it met Public Services and Environment Departments last Autumn, so are delighted to see it’s on the agenda for January and if agreed could be introduced at the start of 2010.
However we are keen to point out that Public Services must give a clear public assurance that ‘wastewater charges will lead to full sewage treatment’. This is vitally important as for far too long the States have failed to deliver on sewage improvements some of which had already been agreed back in 1997.
Whilst generally supportive of the text provided by Public Services in the Billet D’Etat, we are concerned that a proposal in section 6.7 which would see a50 fixed charge only funding investigations into full sewage treatment and claims in section 2.6 that it would take 3 years for the public paying this charge before they would see any firm proposals brought to the States for the provision of a sewage treatment plantare weak and must be strengthened to show this public money will ultimately deliver full sewage treatment .
Andy Cummins, SAS Campaigns Manager says: “Introducing a wastewater charge could help change Guernsey from being a ‘Brown Isle to a Green Isle’ overnight just through upgrading the levels of sewage treatment.
But to help install confidence SAS would like to see Minister, Bernard Flouquet make a public statement confirming ‘that should wastewater charges be agreed then the island will have full sewage treatment’. Without this the wastewater charge remains a little unclear on its ultimate intentions.
SAS will also be upping’ its lobbying activities over the course of the next week to ensure all deputies give an ‘effective’ wastewater charge their full support”.