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Guernsey cash reprieves Alderney breakwater

GUERNSEY HAS released 500,000 of extra short term maintenance funding for the historic breakwater on the neighbouring Channel Island of Alderney after failing to decide whether to replace it or repair it permanently.

The independent inquiry into the future of the breakwater has delayed publishing its recommendations after island residents swamped it with ideas.

Head of engineering services Alan Child said the future of the breakwater had ceased to be an engineering issue and had become political. We are simply throwing good money after bad.

The panel of three experts was appointed last September to quell the growing row over plans for the 900m long rock-armoured breakwater.

It had originally been expected to look at the options and report back Guernsey by the end of 1997 (NCE 25 September 1997). But with views from more than 300 groups and organisations on the island to look at, the earliest date for its report is now May.

The row blew up after Guernsey, which underwrites Alderneys budget, announced it was not cost effective to continue repairs. It planned to replace the structure, built last century by second president of the Institution of Civil Engineers James Walker, with a much shorter 19M concrete wall.

Alderney residents say the shorter defence will make the harbour smaller and so damage the islands fragile tourism and fishing industries. Alderney States engineer Steve Price, who appointed Beckett Rankine Partnership to give a second opinion, maintains that the breakwater can be repaired for around 20M.

Guernsey wants to cut maintenance of the structure to zero, said Price. But what wasnt looked at was the cost benefit to the local community of keeping the old breakwater.

Antony Oliver

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