10th November 1980

The States votes to flood Queen’s Valley

The decision to flood Queen’s Valley to create a new reservoir provided the scriptwriters on BBC police drama Bergerac with an interesting opportunity. As the house that Jim Bergerac lived in was situated in the valley, the programme’s fourth series opened with him looking for a new house, and thus meeting estate agent Susan Young, played by Louise Jameson. The two became romantically involved and she was a regular cast member from 1985’s The Last Interview, until A True Detective, broadcast in 1990.

Despite the States voting in favour of the flooding, it wasn’t until 1991 – several years after Bergerac had met his beau – that the taps were turned. The BBC’s ambitious Domesday Project explained in 1986 how it had come about: “The decision in the mid 1970s by the Waterworks Company to flood Queen’s Valley, immediately raised a major opposition.  This opposition quickly organised itself and mounted a campaign of tremendous pressure against the flooding. The Waterworks’s figures for projected water consumption were questioned – even 10 years has shown the company to have been wrong- and economies were suggested. In spite of compelling the resignation of the responsible committee in the States as the result of a petition unique in Jersey’s history, the States finally agreed to flood by 1 vote. However, the campaign has continued and the anti-flooding group have still not given up.”

A vote against flooding Queen’s Valley

The issue rumbled on for years and a petition against the flooding organised in response to the vote attracted more than 11,000 names at a time when Jersey’s population stood at just under 80,000. According to a report in The Times on 10 December 1985, one of their concerns was the wording of the draft law that would enable the reservoir’s construction. “If objectors find as the project goes ahead that they dislike some aspect of it, they will not be able to challenge it in court,” the paper explained. If the law was allowed to pass in that form, the challengers said, it could set a precedent, and so they intended to appeal to the Queen, who owned land in the valley, since the law would not be valid unless she approved it.

The saga still had a long time to run, with plans being scuppered when an investor acquired 30% of the water company in 1981, and the States itself receiving bad news in 1990.


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