A Raw (Sewage) Deal For Guernsey

On the 25th Of January 2012 Guernsey’s Public Service Department will recommend the States of Guernsey continues the filthy daily act of discharging 16,000 tons of raw sewage and waste water directly into the sea. This recommendation flouts the absolute minimum standards that the rest of Europe and the majority of the developed world adheres too. And it’s a slap in the face for Guernsey locals who have consistently called for better protection for their beautiful beaches. If the States of Guernsey agree to continuing this archaic practice, Guernsey could be left holding the title of Europe’s dirty little island.

On the 23rd of January SAS campaigners polled holiday makers travelling to Guernsey by ferry, asking what they knew about Guernsey’s sewage strategy and how they felt about it:

• An alarming 93% of respondents had no idea Guernsey still continuously discharges untreated sewage.

• Over 90% of the holiday makers responding said this information would influence their decision on whether or not they would visit the island again.

• 79% of all the people questioned said they wouldn’t be happy to use the beaches and the seas around Guernsey.

(Poll completed on the 23rd of Jan 2012 at Weymouth ferry port.)

This sends an unequivocal message to the States of Guernsey!

The States of Guernsey has twice before committed to sewage treatment only to quietly renege when the raw sewage debate had left the spotlight. The first time in the late 90s, and secondly in 2009, after 5 years of consistent activity by SAS, including the second largest petition in the island’s history (collected in little over a month). Since 2009 SAS has been giving Guernsey the credit for committing to responsible sewage treatment. But the Public Service’s U-turn has brought the issue back to the top of the campaign & media agenda.

Hundreds of SAS supporters from Guernsey, the UK and around the world have registered their disgust using SAS’s social media channels, including Facebook & Twitter. Condemnation has been rife on Guernsey’s facebook page. A selection of the social media comments include

Jim Lockyer said “What a shame, I was planning a trip to Guernsey this August to visit some friends. I am now having second thoughts as I don’t want my kids getting ill.”

Joelle Pengelley said “I say that I’m proud to be from Guernsey and I boast to my mates at Uni that we have amazing beaches. But that won’t be for much longer. Why do you want to ruin what is one of the best aspects about our island by putting raw sewage in our ocean! Find another option!”

Elspeth Vanguard said:Revolting! Holidaying somewhere else this year”.

Andrew Reg Rendell said: “Raw sewerage? are you crazy I was coming over but just cancelled. I will go somewhere else and take the family somewhere clean and safe”

Jan Gale said: “This is not a civilised thing to do. I will not return this year on the cat as I had planned and hope everyone gets to know about this disgusting practice.”

Darren Smith said: “C’mon Guernsey, 16,000 tons of raw sewage and you expect tourists. I’m stopping in Weymouth for my main holiday this year and was looking forward to catching the ferry to discover your wonderful beaches. No chance now.”

Dan Hacking said: “Considering a family trip……not now, may as well go swim in my local sewer!”

On Friday the 19th SAS met with the Public Service minister Bernard Flouquet and representatives from Guernsey Water and the Public Service team. SAS left disappointed as the Guernsey representatives could not justify several unsubstantiated claims within their reports. Most notably, claims that Guernsey are meeting the requirements of the relevant European legislation (although not legally binding for Guernsey, they are used as a benchmark). And removing 65,000 people’s organic matter from Guernsey’s raw sewage would “have no significant impact on bacterial loads (in the sewage to be discharged)” Public Service’s Liquid Waste Strategy 2011.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) joins SAS in urging Guernsey to treat their sewage responsibly. MCS Coastal Pollution Officer, Rachel Wyatt said: “ The MCS Good Beach Guide only recommends beaches with the best bathing water quality around the UK, and has been unable to recommend those affected by the poor treatment of Guernsey’s sewage.”

SAS Campaign Director, Andy Cummins says: “Today the States of Guernsey has the opportunity to listen to the widespread disgust and react responsible before it’s too late for Guernsey. Listen to your resident and visitors, look elsewhere around the world and then support responsible sewage treatment to ensure Guernsey benefits from the cleanest and safest possible coastline.”

For more information on this campaign please contact Andy Cummins on 01872 555 952 – 07711 767 548 or email [email protected] & Rachel Wyatt: Marine Conservation Society – Coastal Pollution Officer – 01989 561 657 / 01989 566 017