Chouet Landfill site is the latest and quite probably last of a series of sites used to landfill the Island’s putrescible waste. Like many other such sites in Guernsey it occupies the hole left by former quarrying of the island’s granite – largely for the building industry.
Although this site lies outside the Island’s water catchment area, it is licensed for putrescible waste disposal by the Guernsey Environmental Health Department using UK codes of best practice. It is located on the northern tip of Guernsey, adjacent to the sea at 49 30N 2 32W.
Chouet Landfill opened in February 1998, with a void space of 1.1 million cubic metres. At the time of writing this void is 60% filled.
At its peak in 2001 the Island’s 60,000 residents and multitude of commercial businesses were sending 74,000 tons of waste to the site. With improved recycling, some of the waste being diverted to other sites, and a general slowdown in the construction industry, the volume of waste landfilled at Chouet fell to 36,000 tons in 2008.
The Island’s parliament, the States of Guernsey, is due to consider a report in the summer of 2009 recommending the methods and plant to be used in future to treat Guernsey’s solid waste. If approved at that time, it is likely that existing landfill practice at Chouet will cease early in 2012. From that date it is probable that any waste landfilled at Chouet will be inert residue from whatever waste processing treatment is adopted by the Island.
There can be little doubt that the abundance of food at landfill sites in Guernsey available to gulls has been a major factor in several species being able to increase their populations over the past 40 years (Veron, P in prep.). It will be fascinating to see what effect the closure (or severe curtailment) of landfill in Guernsey has on the gull populations of the Bailiwick as a whole.
It is hoped that colour ringing schemes run on Herring Gulls (1998-2007 and again from 2009), Lesser Black-backed Gulls (from 2008) and Great Black-backed Gulls (from 2009) will make major contributions to understanding this, and other aspects of gull ecology in the Channel Islands.
Paul K Veron
25th March 2009