Boatowners mooring in the Channel Islands could see their Guernsey harbour fees rise under new proposals

A proposal to increase Guernsey harbour fees has been met with widespread opposition during a meeting of the Guernsey Boatowners Association (GBA) earlier this month.

Port authority Guernsey Harbours claims that £80million needs to be raised to bring the island’s five marinas in St Peter and St Sampsons up to scratch.

The proposals could see harbour fees rise by more than 90%, a scenario that has riled local boatowners.

Following the meeting on 24 November, Peter Derham, president of the Guernsey Boatowners Association, said: “For the vast majority of small boats, the message is: we can’t pay and we won’t pay.”

In the GBA meeting Sara McGreevy, director of harbours at Guernsey Harbours, claimed that Guernsey harbour fees are much lower than those charged on the UK mainland.

“Our consultation period closed in November, asking should we be applying uniform price rises or should we be benchmarking in terms of the market,” she told MBY.

“At the moment there is no stake in the ground saying – this is where charges should be,” Sara added.

Channel Island comparison

The current rate of £5.17 per square foot means that an average-sized 30ft motor boat pays £1,551 per year in Guernsey harbour fees.

Under the new proposals, harbour fees could be charged per metre. A similar system is operated in nearby Jersey, with owners charged £340 per metre.

If Guernsey were to adopt the same pricing as Jersey, then harbour fees on a 30fter would rise to £3,060 per year – an increase of 97%.

Peter argues that such a rise could prove to be a major deterrent: “We don’t dispute that we may have to pay a little bit more for our moorings, but the fact is that if you shove a 100% increase in moorings under people’s noses they will give up boating.”

He adds than any comparison to Jersey is unfair due to the increased level of marina facilities on the neighbouring Channel Island.

Three public consultations have been held over the past month to discuss the ten-year redevelopment plan.

The port authority’s proposal to raise the £80m target is due to be announced in February and is likely to include £20m of investment from real estate development and the private sector.

The States of Guernsey will then debate the plans in late March 2015. Any increase in charges would be introduced over a four-year period, Guernsey Harbours added.

Reports have claimed that local boatowners could react by creating a blockade of the harbours, but Peter was keen to downplay such suggestions:

“I’d be wary about starting a blockade, because I wouldn’t want to doing anything to inconvenience the public.”