June 21st, 2012 by La Société Guernesiaise
La Société Guernesiaise was surprised and extremely disappointed to learn that the application for a large private aircraft hangar adjacent to Guernsey Airport (application FULL/2010/3669) has recently been granted permission.
Ahead of the public meeting on 29 May 2012, La Société Guernesiaise was informed by the States of Guernsey Environment department that the concerns highlighted in La Société Guernesiaise various representations were clearly made and would form part of the information provided to the planners and Board members.
To subsequently be informed that the Environment department had approved the proposal, after refusing it on seven separate occasions, was very saddening indeed.
Based on media coverage, it would seem that environmental factors were simply overridden by economic arguments.
La Société believes that the benefits of the hangar to the community have been exaggerated and will be far more limited than anticipated.
Further, by making it known that they supported the application, even ahead of the public meeting, the planners seem to have given economic factors much higher weightings than environmental factors, despite the States of Guernsey Environment department’s policy ‘for the conservation, enhancement and sustainable development of the natural and physical environment of the Island’.
Having looked into the conditions of permission, there also appears to have been little or no consideration of the ecological impact of building on a green field site, apart from a minor requirement to submit details of a planting scheme.
It is regrettable that the opportunity to impose measures aimed at effective environmental offsetting was missed. Environmental offsetting, as pioneered locally by the Public Services Department, as part of the Guernsey Airport Project has already proved to be an extremely useful tool in limiting losses from the natural environment.
In the case of the hangar proposal, it would have been highly desirable for the applicant to reinstate a similar area of agricultural land elsewhere, for example, by funding the clearance of a derelict greenhouse site in the near vicinity.
In considering the number of times that the application was turned down, over several years, La Société cannot understand why the department changed its stance and granted permission on this occasion, particularly as the details of the project have remained largely unchanged.
The decision would appear to send a rather dangerous message to other developers that simply by regularly reapplying for permission, it is likely to eventually be given – and that can only lead to increased pressure on the natural environment.
Finally, we would ask the States of Guernsey Environment Department to review its procedure for appealing against decisions. The existing system would seem to favour the applicant, who can appeal if a project is refused.
However, in cases where permission has been given, there does not appear to be the same opportunity available for neighbours or other interested parties to appeal.
Currently, there is no realistic mechanism to allow reconsideration of a previously approved development and therefore no possibility for review if it is felt that permission was wrongly given.
President, La Société Guernesiaise