Where do Jersey and Guernsey get their electricity from - and are they part of the UK?

France is threatening to cut electricity supply to the Channel Islands over Brexit fishing row

A post-Brexit dispute over fishing rights in Jersey waters has led to a threat to cut off the power supply to the Channel Island.

The row began when it emerged a new licensing system was to be introduced for French fishing vessels under a UK-EU trade agreement.

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he system, which required boats to submit evidence of their past fishing activities to carry on operating in Jersey waters, was met with opposition.

French fishing vessels stage protest outside the harbour at St Helier, Jersey, in a row over post-Brexit fishing rights. (Pic: Josh Dearing / PA)

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It has led to opposing maritime ministers saying they are ready to take “retaliatory measures” - including shutting off the power to both Jersey and Guernsey.

Where do Jersey and Guernsey get their electricity from?

Though historically associated with Great Britain, Jersey and Guernsey are located far closer to the land border of France than England’s south coast.

Jersey is an island located in the English Channel just north of the French coastline. (Graphic: National World)

It means that some of the operations are shared, including the islands’ electricity supply.

A large proportion, roughly 95 percent, of Jersey’s electricity comes through undersea cables from France, which is just 19 miles away from the island.

It will have a big impact on Guernsey too which gets its electricity through Jersey.

Do Jersey and Guernsey have other supplies of power?

The threat from France has sparked a reaction from both islands’ local electricity providers - Jersey Electricity and Guernsey Electricity.

Both have said there are enough supplies for each of the islands’ electricity requirements.

Jersey Electricity said in a statement: “Following enquiries from our customers regarding the French fishing dispute, JE can reassure customers that in the unlikely event electricity supplies from France are disrupted, La Collette Power Station and Queens’ Road has capacity to supply Jersey’s electricity requirements.”

Guernsey Electricity CEO Alan Bates said: “Guernsey Electricity has a security of supply strategy where the role of the power station is to provide continuity of electricity supply in the event of any issue with the importation cable. We can reassure all consumers of the resilience of the local generation capability and there is sufficient capacity to meet all the island’s electricity demand.”

Why has France threatened to cut power supply to Jersey?

Despite the initial reassurance of power to its residents, the longer term issue still remains.

The depth of feeling among French fishermen was evident when dozens of boats gathered near Jersey’s main port to protest the new system, with some crews even setting off flares.

It comes after French maritime minister Annick Girardin warned the country is ready to take “retaliatory measures” and accused Jersey of dragging its feet over issuing new licences.

She said it gave France the “means” to act against Jersey if the matter couldn’t be resolved, adding: “Even though I am sorry that it has come to this, we will do so if we have to.”

Ian Gorst, External Relations Minister for the Government of Jersey, said cutting off electricity would “seem disproportionate... for the sake of needing to provide extra details so that we can refine the licences.”

A UK government spokesperson said ministers were working with France and Jersey to help resolve the issue.

“To threaten Jersey like this is clearly unacceptable and disproportionate,” the spokesman told the BBC.

Is Jersey part of the UK?

Jersey is an island located in the English Channel just north of the French coastline.

Both Jersey and Guernsey, and the Isle of Man, are self-governing dependencies of the British crown, meaning they have their own government and laws.

However, each of the three islands are officially British Crown Dependency, forming the British Isles, and are defended by the British government internationally.

Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man are not part of the UK.