When the harbours at St Peter Port and St Sampson were built in the 1800s, no-one could have imagined how different the world would be today. Yet for generations, they have provided our essential link to the outside world, constantly evolving to meet the island's changing needs.
Originally, the main export was granite, and the main import coal. Over the years, as demands have shifted, the harbours have adapted, been re-equipped and rearranged for every new requirement.
In St Sampson, fuel tankers now discharge alongside berths where quarrymen once loaded stone onto sailing ships. In St Peter Port, where steamers docked for foot passengers to walk ashore after a long sea journey, travellers now drive off the latest fast ferries.
And over the years, as leisure boating has grown in popularity, much of the space within (and around) the harbours once needed to navigate sailing ships has been given over to private moorings.
Present day challenges
While the harbours have adapted over the years, in many ways they were never designed for their current uses. Much of the infrastructure is more than 150 years old, and needs substantial repair and modernisation. Some port activities may no longer be best located.
Looking more widely, both harbours could offer opportunities to enhance the waterfront, and expand the island's marine leisure offering to attract more business and visitors.
In 2019, Guernsey Ports began an extensive project to identify the island's long-term, future harbour requirements. This has considered options for how, and where, all the various different activities that currently exist around the harbours can best be accommodated.
There are no easy solutions. Simply repairing and rearranging the existing harbours will do little to address current challenges, and may exacerbate some problems. Any construction project, to extend current facilities or build new ones, will be complex and require significant investment. However just as our existing harbours have served the island for nearly two centuries, any development now will be a long-term investment, for generations to come.
Following a comprehensive review of current operations and future requirements, the States' Trading Supervisory Board proposed the creation of a new port facility, which would relieve St Peter Port and St Sampson's of some of their current commercial port activity. This would release space around both harbours for other uses, and provide an opportunity to revitalise The Bridge. It was identified in the review as Combination 5.
The detailed findings of the review, and the subsequent recommendations, are contained in the policy letter which can be downloaded from this page. These proposals were debated by the States in June 2021.
It was subsequently agreed to set up a new body to advise on the development of the Seafront Enhancement Area. Proposals for the mandate, membership will be presented to the States by the end of 2021, along with plans to develop the seafront masterplan by the end of 2022.
The States' Trading Supervisory Board will also submit proposals for a new marina within St Peter Port Harbour by the end of 2022.
Further information can also be found on the following pages.