Cross Posted from Channel Online
Some vineyards in Sark have been sabotaged.
Support wires – some up to 200 yards long – have been cut and repairs will take up to six months. The cost is estimated at tens of thousands of pounds.
Kevin Delaney of Sark Estate Management says staff who have been working on the project are distraught.
In all 40,000 vines have been affected out of the 100,000 planted. The support wires were severed at both ends and in the middle. Mr Delaney said it was a “night of devastation”.
Guernsey police are assisting an investigation.
The criminal damage came ahead of a protest about the scale of vineyard plantations in the island. The Agriculture Committee have called for a halt on the conversion of grazing land. They fear it will lead to the collapse of farming and damage biodiversity.
More than 80 islanders staged a protest near a field currently being ploughed for vineyard development.
In a public statement the committee say that Sark’s varied rural landscape has suffered aesthetically from the scale and mechanical process of vine planting.
They carry on: “The scale of this new monoculture will have a devastating effect on Sark’s unique and diverse wildlife. Many species which rely on Sark’s healthy fields – from earthworms, insects, butterflies, moths, bats, birds, up to Peregrine Falcons which nest around our cliffs, will suffer as the traditional environment is impoverished.
“We call on the Sark Estate Management to halt present work and reconsider the agricultural plans and priorities for their land in Sark.”
Kevin Delaney of Sark Estate Management counters all of the points made by the agriculture committee and says he has not been approached by them. “My office door is open to anyone at all times,” he says and pointed out that none of the 11 Conseilleurs taking part in the demonstration had spoken to him about their concerns.
He’s offering to have talks about the scale of the development and denies there’s a risk to the environment. “Let’s have a discussion and see what’s right for the island,” he said.
He has plans to restore hedgerows – planting 50,000 trees and shrubs – and says only organic farming is permitted on their land. “We want to use the natural habitat to protect our crops,” he said.
Once planting is complete vineyards will cover 90 acres of Sark’s plateau which is around 806 acres. The Sark Estate owns a further 70 acres which will be leased to farmers. Mr Delaney says he will be offering them long-term leases.
The agriculture committee say they have worries about the use of Bordeaux Mixture, which contains copper sulphate, becoming airborne and spreading outside the vineyards. Mr Delaney says Bordeaux Mixture is used rarely and sparingly and that it is injected directly to the root of the vine, avoiding any airborne dispersal.
The vineyard project, he points out, will create 30 full-time jobs in Sark.