‘We take these threats seriously’ Jersey minister reveals island’s fix to French power cut

Jersey 'taking threats from France very seriously' says Gorst

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Ian Gorst explained Jersey, during its preparation of a potential no-deal Brexit, looked at its energy dependency on France and put in places several measures should power supply be an issue from January 1. He added the island has a commercial contract between EDF Energy and the Jersey Electricity Company which could not be easily altered by French governments and would require direct action from France if they were to follow up on their threats. Mr Gorst also revealed in the extreme case that the threat is followed up on, Jersey has its own power station which could be equipped for powering more of the island. 

Speaking to Julia Hartley-Brewer on talkRADIO, Mr Gorst was asked whether he believes war could break out with France. 

He swiftly replied: “Absolutely not, but let’s be clear the threats emanating from Paris and then the threat today of a blockade of our harbour here in St Helier are totally disproportionate to the technical issues that we’re facing with the implementation of the Brexit trade deal.

“We take those threats very seriously, we’re grateful to the prime minister for his full support.

“And what we need to do now is find diplomatic solutions to the issues that we are facing.”

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Ms Hartley-Brewer then quizzed the Jersey minister over subtle threats made by France who said they would consider “retaliatory measures” against the UK over fishing disputes. 

French fishermen urged their government to cut off electricity to Jersey in response to fishing licence disputes.

The radio host asked: “The French maritime minister [threatened] to cut Jersey’s electricity supplies – 95 percent of electricity comes from a French company.

“Did that come out of the blue to you and it is only on Friday that full notice was given about these licences that were going to be granted.

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“Had there been threats made previously and what was your reaction to that?”

Mr Gorst responded: “Well, of course, everyone in Jersey just like you did in the UK prepared for a potential no-deal Brexit.

“One of those risks was around energy security, there is a commercial contract between EDF and Jersey Electricity Company so it would be extreme for the French government to seek to interrupt that commercial contract.

“But should that take place let’s be clear Jersey Electricity can continue supplying electricity to islanders and in extreme cases, we’ve got a power station here as well.”

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Around 95 percent of Jersey’s electricity is supplied by companies in France and is transported to the island via underwater cables. 

Disputes over fishing licences boiled over as French ships have been shut out of Jersey’s water following a new law that came into power last week. 

The law requires French fishermen to be allocated licences from the Jersey government which are only awarded if vessels have operated in the waters before. 

The licences will also tell when and where the ships can operate.

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