The pressure group, Earth Project Jersey, is re-launching with the aim of being a strong campaigning platform for the environment ahead of June’s election. By Caroline Spencer
The group was formed late in 2018 to bring together organisations and individuals with the common aim of protecting the Island’s environment. Its Facebook page states: ‘Our mission is to improve the environmental quality of our Island by partnering with businesses, individuals and community groups. Better soils, cleaner air and water quality. A better and healthier environment for all the flora and fauna of the Island.’
Thanks to Covid, members haven’t met to share ideas as much as they would like. Now there is a plan to launch EPJ as a membership organisation by Easter.
Environmental campaigner Andrew Le Quesne, who has been its chairman since the start, said: ‘Our notional target is to have 10,000 paying members by the end of 2022. We want to engage with as many local groups as possible, providing a forum for them to talk to each other and give them a voice. For example, the organisations that are interested in bats, hedgehogs, squirrels and bees have a common interest. If agri-chemicals kill all the insects, then bats don’t have anything to eat and beekeepers run out of pollinators.
‘We also want to inform the public and empower environmentally aware voters to vote positively for policies. We want to have representatives and volunteers at every hustings.’
But does he think that candidates will just pay lip service?
He said: ‘In 2018 all of the politicians currently serving nodded and said they would sort out the population problem. They haven’t. They were all terribly keen to protect the environment. And they haven’t.
‘It would be nice to have four or five questions which are put to every candidate and we will publish their answers and hold them to account.’
A single membership for Earth Project Jersey will cost £25 per adult, with discounts for families, younger and older members. A corporate framework is also being prepared and EPJ are working on a website.
‘I would like to see an Earth Project Guernsey and replicate the model around the world,’ said Andrew, who is also involved with Island Innovation, a global network of small island jurisdictions working on sustainability. In September he attended their Virtual Island Summit, where more than 250 islands were represented.
‘It’s a fantastic network,’ he said. ‘Small islands can achieve a lot more than big nations. And if amongst that group of 250 small island nations you have all the world’s offshore finance centres, suddenly you have a very big stick and you can have real influence.’
As for how Jersey is performing in environmental sustainability, Andrew said: ‘I would put Jersey in the bottom quartile, not solely for the bad things we are doing but for the fact that we have all of the resources, the knowledge and the opportunities to be at the top of the class. And we have wilfully chosen not to be.’
*Anyone who would like to be involved in Earth Project Jersey’s work leading up to the election is asked to email email@example.com