Flood prevention drainage pipe 'unaffordable', leaving residents fearful of future floods

  • ITV Channel's Will Tullis spoke to residents about future flooding, and the Infrastructure Minister.

A drainage pipe that would help prevent the worst effects of flooding has been deemed "unaffordable" by Jersey's government, leaving residents fearful of how future floods will impact them.

This follows the mid-January floods at Grands Vaux - worst floods on record in the island. Fifty-eight homes were evacuated in the Grands Vaux region, and 22 were left uninhabitable as a result of heavy rainfall.

The island's Infrastructure Minister, Deputy Tom Binet initially said a flood drainage pipe running beneath the reservoir would cost £60m. However, the he told ITV News on 7 February that this was a "cigarette packet" estimate that he came up with in ten minutes.

The revised estimate was judged to be around £200m.

"That was a mistake on my part", Deputy Binet told ITV News.

"That [cost estimate] was in the very early stages, I had about ten minutes to do an interview with somebody. I picked up the phone and somebody said 'fag packet estimate' of £60m.

"It wasn't a proper estimate", he said.

"We're into the realms of unaffordability, we've got to find a different way of handling the problem", Deputy Binet added.

'Fag packet estimate': Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet explains why the new estimate for a flood drainage pipe - £200m - is triple the original estimate.

Deputy Binet and Environment Minister, Deputy Hilary Jeune wrote to Grands Vaux residents this week to explain the situation. In the letter, Deputy Jeune said this option was "not something that the island could readily afford" under current circumstances.

Deputy Binet said the only "serious chance" of avoiding further flooding is by dealing with the problem further upstream.

"This will require a fully integrated flood management plan involving all parties, rather than a reactive approach where we simply dispatch the fire service, Infrastructure, Housing and Environment workers and (particularly) Andium Homes to clean up the mess, as we did on this occasion", he said.

Jersey's outdated "Victorian" drainage system were said to be the cause of the severe flooding, according to an initial investigation into the incident.

In the letter to residents, Deputy Jeune said the drainage system is "the same as it was at the time of its installation", in the Victorian era. She went on to say that the system's structural integrity remains "completely robust".

Some Grands Vaux residents responded negatively to the news. Natasha Baudet lives in Grands Vaux with her daughter - who has autism - and her son.

They and their cat were evacuated by boat during the floods, which was distressing for Natasha's daughter.

Ms Baudet fears what may happen is there are more floods.

"I'm quite disgusted really", Ms Baudet said, reacting to the news that the drainage pipe initially proposed is now unaffordable.

"Something needs to be done. I think [government should] put your hand in your pocket and get the job done so we don't have to go through this every time we have heavy rainfall."

'I'm quite disgusted really': Resident Natasha Baudet reacts to news that one flood prevention option has now been deemed 'unaffordable'.

An investigation is ongoing to find out what happened and how flooding on this scale can be prevented in the future.

Deputy Binet will meet with all the residents affected in six weeks, to update them on the findings of the investigation.