A summary of the Inter-Channel Island Environment meeting on 1 and 2 October 2009

October 26th, 2009 by Alderney Wildlife Trust

The annual Inter-Channel Island Environment meetings are aimed at increasing communication not only within the Channel Islands but also by creating and building links with other islands and the United Kingdom.

The Alderney Wildlife Trust prepared notes on the meeting of 1 and 2 October 2009 held in the Anne French Room, Island Hall, Alderney.

Conservation Legislation in Jersey by Lindsey Napton, States of Jersey Environment Department

International conventions and treaties – Lindsey noted that Jersey and the Channel Islands in general, as Crown Dependencies, have no independent status in international law.

International Conventions that Jersey is signed up to, and related local legislative/strategic instruments,

include:

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • Bern and Bonn Conventions

Local legislation implementing the above three conventions includes:

  • Conservation of Wildlife (Jersey) Law 2000 – only covers listed species (no insects yet listed)
  • Planning & Building (Jersey) Law 2002 – provides for list of sites of special interest (11 sites) and list of protected trees (includes shrubs and hedgerows)
  • CITES – trade in endangered species – local legislation still in draft form
  • Ramsar Convention

4 Ramsar sites in Jersey (3 offshore reefs and S.E. coast)

Biodiversity Strategy for Jersey – fulfils CBD but not legally binding

Biodiversity Action Plans – 1 habitat action plan, 44 species action plans – useful in planning applications

Lindsey noted that things had moved forward since Jersey signed up to the CBD. Led by the States Environment Department there was a push for private and business involvement in implementing BAPs, for example a Jersey law firm had “adopted” the green lizard.

The Countryside Management team comprised rangers and private contractors. There was also cooperation from the National Trust and Société Jersiaise.

N.B. Whereas Jersey signed up to conventions and then sought to bring in appropriate legislation, Guernsey tended to want to have legislation in place (or at least well in preparation) before signing up.

(Guernsey is signed up to the Bonn but not Bern Convention).

States of Guernsey Strategic Plan 2009 -2013 by Paul Veron, States of Guernsey Policy & Research Unit, Policy Council

The Strategic Plan, which included an Environmental Plan, had been approved by the States in July 2009. This had been drafted and developed in the Environment Department and strategic workshops had been held for States members. No public consultation had taken place due to lack of time as for political reasons it had been necessary to progress the plan quickly.

The Environmental Plan had been written to last 20-25 years without major revision, however it incorporated an annual operational plan and there would be opportunities for consultation and, if necessary, change of priorities, in these annual updates. The first year action plan was scheduled for October; however there was no new money available and therefore new projects would be unlikely to be forthcoming before 2011 at the earliest.

Seabird Breeding Season 2009 by Paul Veron, Seabird Co-ordinator

Paul Veron gave a presentation on the recent breeding seasons for the principal seabird species in the Bailiwick of Guernsey (Shag, Great Cormorant, Storm Petrel, Manx Shearwater, Northern Fulmar, Northern Gannet, Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, Guillemot and Common Tern). In particular he noted the disastrous breeding seasons for Shag in 2007 and 2008, although 2009 had been significantly better. On the back of this Guernsey was carrying out a Shag monitoring project (European Shag Breeding Productivity Project) which would be a 5 year study.

On the other islands it was noted that the Puffin was possibly under pressure on Jersey while Sark had a problem with predation by feral cats and Glyn Young advised that Jersey had lost adult shags. Paul St Pierre commented that the rat eradication policy on Lundy had seen a huge increase in Manx Shearwater. One problem with rats was re-invasion due to connectivity of islands. It was considered of paramount importance that Burhou remain rat free.

ACTIONS: Shag project – need for co-operation between the islands to get hard data. Forum to be set up.

Changing Fortunes of Gulls Breeding in the CI by Paul Veron, Seabird Co-ordinator

Paul Veron’s second presentation followed the history of various gull species in each of the Channel Islands, over the last 10 years, compared with the UK. Of these the Black-legged Kittiwake was now extinct in the islands, whereas GBB and Herring Gull had both increased but were now largely stable (except on Sark), but were decreasing in the U.K.

Whilst Burhou had a nationally important LBB population, 2008 had been a disastrous breeding season. This hand not been so apparent in the other islands, and may indicate very different feedings strategies between the colonies.  Unlike the other islands Jersey has a large urban Herring Gull population and intervention was taking place to control this (removal of eggs and chicks).

Paul Veron noted that landfill would stop in Guernsey by 2013 and this was likely to impact on the gulls of Guernsey, Herm and Sark, but probably not Burhou.  Paul Veron also talked briefly about the gull colour ringing project and urged anyone finding a ringed bird to pass on the data.

Integrated Coastal Zone Management Strategy (ICZM) – Greg Morel, States of Jersey Fisheries

The ICZM Strategy is available on the States of Jersey website – draft in October 2005, final strategy approved October 2008.

The Strategy aims to draw together all areas which impact on the coastal zone – four main headings:

  • protect and conserve wildlife habitats, geodiversity and cultural heritage of Jersey’s coast and sea
  • increase understanding of Jersey’s marine and coastal environments
  • promote and encourage sensitive use of the natural resources
  • work with stakeholders (e.g. wildlife watching code for rib companies)

Marine Protected Areas – gathering information from public. Need to develop a legislative framework based on sound scientific data.

Ramsar Management – no management plan at present and would like exchange of ideas with the other islands. Sark would also like support and advice in formulating a management plan (request made to Paul St Pierre, RSPB and Jen Stockdale, AWT) – ACTION ITEM

Guernsey’s Coastal Defences by Janice Dockerill, States of Guernsey Environment Dept.

With just four staff and no ecologist, but receiving assistance from Guernsey Records Centre, Environment Guernsey (Jamie Hooper) and Guernsey Conservation Volunteers, the States Guernsey Env Dept must maintain and develop Guernsey’s coastal defence strategy.

Sea level rise / flood risk – Royal Haskoning review situation every few years (last year’s storms saw a surge at St Peter Port of over 1 metre.)

German anti-tank wall at Pembroke Bay deteriorating.

Need for education – people like to see solid sea walls but in fact natural (“soft”) defences such as shingle banks and dunes can work well if managed.

Currently coping with sea level rise, but other on-going problems such as erosion have increasing impacts on resources.

UK Government and Biodiversity Conservation in the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories; sharing information and expertise by Tony Weighell, JNCC – Overseas Territories & Crown Dependencies Programme leader

JNCC are statutory advisers to the UK Government.  The Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies programme covers 17 entities.  UK Government strategy for Overseas Territories can now be applied to the Crown Dependencies.

This sets priorities for common issues:

  • baseline surveys and monitoring
  • invasive aliens
  • climate change
  • ecosystem services
  • marine environment

Funding support available for Marine Research and Information Management – aim to speed up marine research.  JNCC, with University of Reading (UK Overseas Territories Steering Group), are developing a UK Overseas Territories (OTs) Training & Research programme, which it is proposed will be extended to the Crown Dependencies (CDs) Currently two focal points, Caribbean and UK. In the Caribbean the aim is to bring in UK expertise to work alongside the local population – possibility for experts from CI to participate in field trips.  All OTs and CDs are different – different legislation, culture and biodiversity issues.  Seabirds in the OTs and CDs are disproportionately important, JNCC working towards extending resources to support CDs.

Working on information management system, a cross territories contact database through which small islands can share information and experiences at no cost. This should hopefully be up and running in 2010, pending funding reviews Possibility of CDs calling on national funding for biodiversity – something of a grey area. Jersey has access to Darwin funds, but this is not widely known. Defra is apparently flexible as regards funding being extended to the CDs.

ACTION: develop points of contact on each island – provide TW with 1 or 2 key contacts.

JNCC and University Reading to form an OTs research Training Group. Tara Pelembe , JNCC representative on the group, to make contact with Guernsey and Jersey to seek representation.  JNCC to inform CDs if funding becomes available for Information Management System for OTs and CDs. JNCC will attend next year to give update on the project.

Invasive Marine Species and their Impacts on the Channel Islands by Richard Lord
Richard Lord presented evidence for the homogenization of our marine environment and the increase in human pressure placed upon it. Globally, invasive species represent the second leading cause of species extinction after habitat loss. (Domination by certain species, toxic species, e.g. red tides.) Marine invasive species in the Bailiwick are principally of Pacific origin, arriving through ballast pollution and on the hulls of recreational craft.  Fortunately there are currently not many invasives in the CI and they rarely cause problems, one exception being Japweed.  Richard Lord also briefly touched on fishing levels, with the pH change in the North Atlantic contributing to species decline or extinction.

Volunteering in Conservation within the Channel Islands by Roland Gauvain, Alderney Wildlife Trust

Roland Gauvain gave a brief description of how conservation volunteering worked in Alderney, with the States of Alderney having no formal responsibility for the environment and the Alderney Wildlife Trust drawing on resources outside government – reliance on local volunteers and work placements, the latter usually just for one year resulting in discontinuity. Establishment of Essex Farm Field Centre to provide accommodation, not only for placements but also for visiting volunteers.

Other examples of volunteering within the CI included the Guernsey Conservation Volunteers (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV group)) who meet once a fortnight and the Guernsey Tree Warden Scheme.

Developing Co-operative Working by Oliver Cheesman, UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum

Oliver Cheesman reflected on his experience working with two networking bodies that sought to enhance cooperative working between disparate organizations/individuals. The UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum (UKOTCF) exists to promote biodiversity and its conservation in the Crown Dependencies as well as the Overseas Territories. Its member organizations are principally NGOs, but it does not exclude governmental bodies, and UKOTCF is itself a registered charitable company (although run largely by voluntary effort). Invertebrate Link (JCCBI) is an umbrella body for UK organizations (specialist societies, conservation NGOs and statutory agencies) concerned with the study and conservation of invertebrates. It is an unincorporated association, with no staff or formal status, but has been in existence for 40 years.

Benefits of co-operative working include (for example):

  • information exchange (to avoid duplication of effort)
  • formulation of best practice (by consensus)
  • public awareness raising (joint campaigning)
  • advocacy at policy-level (collective lobbying)
  • project development and implementation (combined effort)

Networks for promoting co-operative working come in many forms, key questions include:

  • Should networks be formally or informally constituted, and should the “hub” be resourced (if so, how)?
  • Can NGOs/governmental bodies and small/large organizations work comfortably together, and how can “an equal voice for all” be achieved?
  • How to avoid over-reliance on a few key individuals?

In the following open discussion it was agreed that the Inter-Island Environmental Meeting should be an annual event as it enabled contact to be made with the right person. OC recalled being told that “in order to see eye to eye, you must meet face to face”.

Environmental Education by Julia Meldrum, Countryside Officer, States of Jersey

Environmental education is handled by the States of Jersey Environment Department but is not considered a priority and is facing funding cuts.

Responsibilities include:

  • Outings for schoolchildren
  • Environment Week (Ecology Fund)
  • Publications – e.g. walking guides and habitat advisory leaflets

On the practical side assistance is given by the National Trust volunteers who meet once a month.  Volunteer co-ordinator needed in order to grow volunteers on a joint basis.  The need for providing a social aspect to volunteering – and appreciation of volunteers such as personal thank yous and cakes – was recognized by a number of attendees at the meeting.

ACTION: Alderney Wildlife Trust and GVC to discuss creation of conservation volunteers forum for the Channel Islands to include issues such as resource building, training, equipment share etc. This might in time include National Trust Jersey, Action for Wildlife Jersey and Société Guernesiaise volunteers.

Friday 2nd October

Friday kicked off for some 20 delegates with an early morning walk from the Alderney Information Centre to Essex Farm followed by a cooked breakfast overlooking Longis Bay. A mini bus returned people to town in time for the start of Day 2 presentations.

Renewable Energy in the Channel Islands by Louise Magris, States of Jersey and Jersey Shadow Tidal Power Commission

Background

Jersey energy policy not yet agreed upon by the States of Jersey.  £1.5M grant to reduce energy use, e.g. for insulation.

In 2012 a 3rd subsea electricity cable will be installed. 6 proposed French offshore renewable energy sites (mostly wind) are being mooted in around C.I. water/Bay of St. Malo and an outside party looking at offshore wind in Jersey waters. A consolidated approach from across the Islands in responding to the French authorities is needed.

The Tidal Power Advisory Group was formed in 2008 by the Minister from Planning and Environment led by Constable Murphy and other appropriate local people to investigate the opportunities in Jersey waters. They concluded there was merit in further more detailed study and some members of this group have gone on to work within the ‘Shadow’ Commission with the remit of investigating the issue in more detail. The Shadow Commission has contracted IT Power to do a desk top feasibility study (including technical and economic issues) as Jersey’s resource, unlike the other CI, is marginal. This should be ready  by the end of the year.

Depending on outcome of the study a recommendation will then be made to the States of Jersey including the format and membership of the formal Commission.

Open Topics

Tidal Power – Island by Island update

Guernsey Update by Andrew Casebow, Commissioner, Guernsey Shadow Renewable Energy Commission

Guernsey energy policy has been approved and the Guernsey shadow Renewable Energy Commission was set up last Autumn.

Three main issues:

  • Environmental impacts
  • Consenting/licensing
  • Attracting the right developer (potentially looking at something in the water by 2014)

Also set up a Renewable Energy Forum as an independent body, and interested parties were welcome to join (Sark is already represented on this).  Black & Veatch has done an assessment of Guernsey’s resource and highlighted 5 main tidal areas around Guernsey and Sark.

The Forum has been working on an Environmental SEA for Guernsey and Sark waters (known as a Regional Environmental Assessment so as to avoid being trapped by EU legislation). Rather than use outside consultants the Forum wished to build up local knowledge and expertise. A scoping document has been prepared with the help of the Société Guernesiaise and this should be published in the next few weeks. Target for completed REA by July 2010.

With regard to SEAs Lissa Goodwin of the WLT advised that in Strangford Lough there was some concern about displacement of cetaceans and acoustic devices were now being used to monitor this.

Paul Veron noted that Guernsey was preparing the ground now so that when the time was right it was ready “to push the button”.

ACTION: Inter island forum – Guernsey (Andrew Casebow) / Jersey (Louise Magris) / Alderney

(Pamela Dixon)

Renewable Energy Commissions – Guernsey is independent, Jersey has political representation but will

recommend that it becomes independent when a formalised Commission is appointed

Alderney Update by Pamela Dixon, Commissioner, Alderney Commission for Renewable Energy (ACRE)

Alderney recognized as being ahead of the other islands.  Alderney owns its own seabed as compared to Jersey and Guernsey where the seabed belongs to the Crown.  The tidal power initiative in Alderney is different from the other islands in that it is entrepreneur led.  No States money invested in the project.

Pamela Dixon gave background to the 2005 agreement between ARE and SoA.  Pan-island co-operation seen as essential, e.g. Alderney has no cable. 65 year licence signed in November 2008.  SEA already done and consents process drawn up – consenting guide on the Commission’s website.  ACRE is an independent body with a statutory duty to protect Alderney. Needs to demonstrate that it has carried out sufficient research – AWT is one of the consulting bodies.  In process of appointing 2 additional commissioners – willing to use outside experts but needs sufficient knowledge in-house to be able to ask the right questions.

Role going forward: Expects application for consent in the Race.

Part of role is to acquire data in order to make decisions – under the Licence the Commission has the ability to take data from the developer. At the present time there are lots of unknowns. PD stressed the enormity of the project – cost, infrastructure, French cable etc. One task was to manage expectations.

One of the major concerns was the impact of an array, i.e. scalability. Currently no examples by which to be guided.

Questions and comments from the floor Roland Gauvain – asked about island infrastructure, particularly cable route on the way in. Pamela Dixon responded that this would be the subject of major discussions.

Lissa Goodwin – Channel Islands seen as the back door to deployment – not bound by UK or EU law.

Pamela Dixon responded that this was why it was essential that the regulatory system was robust, and followed best practice. Louise Magris commented that Jersey would probably follow EU regulations. Guernsey is going to SIPA and JNCC for consultation, and will have full public consultation.

ACTION: Andrew Casebow and Lissa Goodwin to liaise re scoping and REA

Declan Gaudion, Director, Alderney Renewable Energy, gave a brief overview of ARE’s work and current priorities which lay in three main areas:

Resource:

  • 2006 TOR (bird and cetacean surveys 2006-8)
  • Academic research projects
  • Resource mapping (geophysical, bathymetric and ADCP surveys) and subsequent resource modelling

Markets

  • European grid capacity secured – but costly and limited capacity
  • Talking to the National Grid in the UK
  • Subsidies – investigating relevant EU directives

Technology

  • Partnership with OpenHydro, a shareholder in ARE.
  • Also monitoring with other technologies
  • Looking for the best available technology and keeping an open mind as long as sub-sea.

Questions and comments from the floor

Tina Yates raised the carbon cost of putting technology in place.   Lissa Goodwin mentioned work she had done on the Severn Barrage project. Part of the workstream is looking at mitigation, but this cannot be decided until the technology is known. She stressed the importance of first establishing a baseline, then looking at the impacts and finally deciding on at the appropriate mitigation measures. LG also noted that tidal stream development was modular, unlike barrage, so upgrade was possible.

ACTIONS:

Exchange contact details with regard to Impact Assessments.  CI environmental organizations to get together to pool knowledge and resources – Lissa Goodwin recommended that whilst employing local experts could be a good thing, the islands should be prepared to call on outside knowledge where it already exists in order to avoid duplication of effort. Final comment was the importance of the Channel Island drawing together to make things work.

The meeting notes prepared by the Alderney Wildlife Trust may be downloaded as a PDF file.

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