France is threatening to cut off Jersey’s electricity supply in a row over access to fishing waters. President Macron’s blackmail and the risk of devastating blackouts are real since the island has taken the foolish decision to prioritise decarbonisation over energy security, abandoning most of its on-Island electricity generation to imported nuclear and hydro-electricity from France.
Around 95% of the island’s electricity is imported from France (of which 65% is nuclear and 35% is hydro) through three undersea supply cables (see map below). These imports have enabled the island to completely de-carbonise it electricity supply, becoming entirely dependent on the shenanigans of French politicians.
France’s new energy threat is a continuation of President Macron’s nationalistic strategy to punish Britons for their democratic vote to exit the European Union. During the Brexit negotiations last year, Macron had already started to use France’s energy weapon by threatening to embargo British imports of French nuclear-generated electricity unless Britain ceded fishing rights in British territorial waters. He is now wielding his energy weapon in an attempt to score points at home and blackmail the UK.
France threatened to cut off Jersey’s electricity supplies on Tuesday as the row over post-Brexit fishing rights between Paris and London deepened.
“We are ready to use these retaliation measures,” Annick Girardin, the maritime minister, told lawmakers in the French parliament. “I am sorry it has come to this. We will do so if we have to.”
Ms Giradin mentioned the underwater cables that supply Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, with about 95 percent of its electricity and suggested they could be shut down. The remaining five per cent of its electricity is provided by on-island diesel generators.
The self-governing British Crown Dependency would face all-island power cuts if the French threat was carried out. There were three island-wide power cuts in six years until a new £40 million pound, 16.7-mile cable was laid between Jersey and France in 2016.
On Friday, the UK authorised 41 ships to fish in waters off Jersey. The French fisheries ministry said this was accompanied by new demands “which were not arranged or discussed, and which we were not notified about”.
The new measures set out “where the ships can go and cannot go”, as well as the number of days the fishermen can spend at sea and using what machinery, the ministry claimed.
“This is absolutely unacceptable,” Ms Girardin said. “If we accept this for Jersey, it would imperil our access everywhere.”
David Jones, the deputy chairman of the European Research Group of Tory MPs, told The Telegraph: “This is straightforward demanding money with menaces, which is not the way a 21st century democratic country behaves. The simple fact is this is bullying in order to get the UK to back down on fishing.”