10th March 1981

Queen’s Valley reservoir plans are scuppered

The plan to flood Queen’s Valley, creating a reservoir to meet Jersey’s water needs for a generation, had faced strong opposition for years. The valley was considered one of the last unspoiled patches of the island, and it contained a 500-year-old farmhouse that had been used as Jim Bergerac’s house in the BBC’s Jersey-set police drama.

A man on the inside

When protests and petitions appeared to be having no effect, businessman Colin Tett took a more conventional but unexpected approach: he started to buy up the water company. Originally established in 1888, it had partly been funded through the issuance of shares, which Tett set about quietly acquiring. By the time he had purchased 4700 of them, he owned a third of the company, which was enough to earn him a seat on the board. At that point, the company found itself unable to pass a motion to issue the £2m of new shares it wanted to release to fund the reservoir’s construction.

Of course, as is now obvious, the outcome turned out to be a mere delay rather than a complete termination of the Queen’s Valley plan. The dam was eventually built and the valley flooded, and the resulting reservoir continues to contribute significantly to meeting Jersey’s water requirements to this day, but it must have seemed at the time that Tett’s seat on the board could prove an insurmountable stumbling block.


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