This one has us scratching our head, unsurprisingly the hemp farm owner is less than happy with politicians..
The Jersey Evening Post writes
THE Island’s status as a pioneer in the cultivation and processing of hemp is under threat after States Members voted to create a country park at Warwick Farm, Jersey Hemp has said.
Having been based at the site to the north of St Helier since agreeing a nine-year lease in 2018, Jersey Hemp’s future has been thrown into doubt by the decision by politicians during this week’s Bridging Island Plan debate.
The plan was finally passed yesterday after a fortnight’s deliberation, which included a key vote on Thursday when an amendment to remove plans for the country park was defeated.
David Ryan, chief executive of Jersey Hemp, said he was left angry and frustrated by politicians who he said had failed to appreciate the way the business worked and the benefits it brought to the Island.
He said: ‘We’ve put years of sweat and tears into developing this site and now we don’t know what’s going to happen.
‘Jersey has been ahead of the curve in hemp cultivation and we need to keep that advantage or we will get swallowed up by the emerging UK market.’
Mr Ryan said the majority of States Members had failed to investigate what the company was doing and appeared to think that it would be straightforward for it to move to an alternative site.
He added: ‘We have spent three years in achieving organic accreditation for this site and invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in equipment. You can’t just pick the operation up and drop it down somewhere else. Many Members seemed to be suggesting that we were here in a short-term capacity but nine years was a significant period and offered us the chance to establish our start-up business.’
During the debate, Constable of St Helier Simon Crowcroft said that Jersey Hemp had been consulted about proposals for the country park, but Mr Ryan disputed this.
‘The Constable was here once visiting our subsidiary company Carbon Farm but he wouldn’t talk to us and he’s never set foot up here since or engaged in any communication,’ he said.
The company employs 12 full-time staff and engages additional contractors. Mr Ryan said Environment Minister John Young’s description of the run-down state of the site was based on a 2018 visit and completely failed to acknowledge what Jersey Hemp had done in the ensuing period.
‘It was difficult to listen to the debate and I was embarrassed for him [Deputy Young] because he appeared to have such little understanding about hemp and the benefits that it can bring,’ Mr Ryan said.
The company has established what it says is Jersey’s largest organic farm, with hemp plants helping to improve the quality of soil and having a positive effect on carbon levels.
As well as extracting CBD oil from hemp flowers for medicinal use and making products such as protein powders and animal feed, hemp fibres can be used to create ‘hempcrete’ building blocks.
The company also hopes to obtain clearance to cultivate new varieties of hemp, having gained planning permission for a fence that would provide the necessary security for the site.
Part of the site is sub-let to the Jersey Tea Company, which Mr Ryan said was also liable to be adversely affected by the uncertainty over the site.
Mr Ryan said he hoped it would be possible to seek reassurance from government before the general election in June.
He said: ‘We’ve had some really positive comments from ministers, with [Senator] Lyndon Farnham talking about Jersey as a centre of excellence for hemp and medicinal cannabis, but then we are told that we will lose our site.
‘It’s a really uncertain time and I hope there will be an acknowledgement of the position that we are in.’