Jersey considers population cap to deal with increasing migration

Channel Island residents fear overcrowding as study shows significant growth is expected

Politicians on the Channel Island of Jersey are considering bringing in a population cap amid fears from residents of overcrowding.

The island’s government, known as “The States of Jersey”, will ask people for their views on how to control population levels ahead of a debate in March.

A new population model published by the States in September 2012 showed that there could be as many as 120,000 people living in Jersey by 2035, up from around 98,000 in June last year.

The Assistant Chief Minister, Senator Paul Routier, said every idea to deal with the situation will be considered.

The annual social survey, published last month, found people wanted the government to tackle migration as a priority ahead of providing affordable homes and jobs. Mr Routier said a population cap was not out of the question. “There is a mixed message which needs to be got out, there is an opportunity for people to come to the island as long as they are bringing value to the island,” he said. “I think we are going to look at all options whether it be a cap or whether it be a more open policy, it is just about finding what the population wants.”

An environmental campaigner, Dr Mark Forskitt, said the island had reached the saturation point in population growth. He said he was shocked by the figures and concerned at the strain it would put on island services

Neighbouring Guernsey in 2007 moved to introduce a population cap, which provoked considerable controversy. After the island’s parliament voted to keep the population at its current level of around 60,000, it was estimated that the measure would cause the number of residents of pensionable age to double in 20 years.

Opposition politicians argue that unless there was a population increase, the percentage of islanders working would fall. Industry leaders claim it has discouraged businesses from setting up on the island.

Both Jersey and Guernsey are Bailiwicks – independent, British Crown Dependencies with their own financial, legal and judicial systems.