20 Oct 2006
Reflections on my Trip to Jersey.
I just spent a very enjoyable couple of days on the island of Jersey, at the invitation of the Jersey National Trust, Jersey Slow Food and the Jersey Organic Association, taking the message of energy descent and powerdown to the island. Jersey is home to about 90,000 people on a beautiful island near the French coast. My trip was organised by Alasdair Crosby, a reporter from the Jersey Evening Post and founder of Jersey Slow Food.
I arrived by plane from Exeter, a historic (for me anyway) trip, it being my last plane flight, my having decided not to fly any more some months ago (this trip had been arranged before that decision was made). I was met by Alasdair at the airport, and then had supper with him and representatives of the other groups behind the invitation. Alasdair had my visit to Jersey organised with military precision, I was given a very detailed itinerary for the time I was there.
On Wednesday morning I was in the studios of BBC Radio Jersey by 8.30, and did a 10 minute interview on peak oil and on the challenges it presents to the island on their morning news programme, making the point that if the island is able to engage with the challenge of peak oil, it presents the opportunity for a historic and ultimately positive transition.
I then had a meeting with Chris Newton, the Director of the Environment Department on Jersey. We discussed the island’s emerging energy policy, a draft report that explores the energy options for the island. Chris clearly has a good handle on the energy challenges facing Jersey, and has been looking in detail at some of the options it has. As an island with a long coastline, the potential for tidal power is great. The report will be followed by an energy audit for the island, to which I suggested a food and medicine audit may well prove useful. There seemed to be a lot of interest in exploring the challenge, but much less enthusiasm for responses such as traffic management, and grants for microrenewables and conservation. The feeling seems to be that the market will deal with this, which I don’t see borne out anywhere else. It was very interesting to see how decision makers such as Chris are attempting to deal with this challenge, and while a lot of effort is going into evaluating the island’s energy options, I didn’t detect a sense of urgency correspondent to the scale of the challenge.
I then went to the offices of the Jersey Evening Post to meet Alasdair to do an interview with him for the paper, which should be in the paper some time next week. I’ll post it here at **Transition Culture** when it is done. Then it was off to Jersey College for Girls, where I met my host Tom Fallon, one of the teachers in the school. The school has a strong environmental programme, and next week has a visit from the island’s environment minister. I gave a 15 minute presentation to a school assembly of 700 girls, introducing the idea of peak oil and the need to respond to it. My slide of Wallace and Gromit as a model of post-peak living went down well!
I then had a few hours off, to check emails in the nearby internet café, and have a bit of a wander around. At 7.30 I was back at the Jersey College for Girls for the main part of my visit, an evening talk entitled “The Future of Local Food Production