Another headland controversy
Thursday 21st July 2011, 3:00PM BST.
THE reclaimed land at La Collette is one of the first glimpses of Jersey afforded to people arriving here by sea. It is also included in the zone covered by the Ramsar Convention, the international agreement intended to protect precious wetlands.
Unfortunately, this prominent area of reclaimed land is also notable as the site of two of the Island’s least appealing structures, La Collette power station chimney and the bleak grey cuboid that is the new energy from waste plant.
A number of decisions – some of them taken long ago – have ensured that, in spite of its prominence, La Collette is principally a commercial and industrial site. Accordingly, few attempts have been made to soften its utilitarian ugliness.
Indeed, the designers of the waste plant appear to have gloried in a deliberately brutalist piece of architecture.
It is now suggested that the area’s status as a place reserved for activities and objects that the vast majority of people would not want to see in their backyards could be confirmed by another project – a proposed plan to dispose of energy from waste plant ash by creating a 20-metre artificial headland.
In fairness, a project of this nature could produce certain benefits. A 20-metre headland – which means 66 feet in, as they say, old money – might conceivably hide some of the other features of the site.
That said, many will balk at the sheer scale of what is proposed. When all is said and done, 20 metres is the height of a six-storey building.
Meanwhile, there have already been fierce objections the project on the grounds that the waste ash could be toxic and because of the possible impact of the construction process. Controversy over potentially harmful waste at La Collette is, of course, not a new issue, though piling up a massive mound of material likely to be blown about by the wind might produce an entirely new set of problems.
Assurances have been offered that precautions will be taken to ensure that nothing leaches out into the sea and that ash will not be strewn over the Ramsar zone, and it is quite possible that modern engineering methods could prevent either of these eventualities.
Nevertheless, if Transport and Technical Services press ahead with what they insist is the best option for ash disposal, they can be pretty sure that this further despoliation of an already blighted stretch of coastline is not going to be a major vote-winner.