France threatens to limit power supply to British island over fishing rights

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The French government has threatened to reduce the amount of electricity the country exports to the British Island of Jersey following continued disagreements over fishing rights with the British government.

Reducing the supply will have a massive impact on the island’s electricity network with the island’s main utility Jersey Electricity sourcing 95% of its energy from hydro and nuclear power stations in France via an undersea cable.

The threat follows Britain approving only half of the 450 licenses that the French government has filed for its fishing boats to operate in UK waters, according to the BBC.

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The threats have also been amplified by the recent nuclear submarines deal signed between the US, the UK, and Australia which meant a previous deal between Australia and France had to be sidetracked.

The French government is saying the UK is failing to deliver its promises agreed in the Brexit deal by failing to approve the 450 license proposals.

Clément Beaune, who is a close ally of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, was quoted by The Guardian, saying: “We defend our interests. We do it nicely, and diplomatically, but when that doesn’t work we take measures. The Channel Islands, the UK, are dependent on us for their energy supply. They think they can live on their own and badmouth Europe as well. And because it doesn’t work, they indulge in one-upmanship, and in an aggressive way.”

The UK government has been given two weeks to approve the contracts or else the French will cut their energy supply to the island, according to I. However, the UK government has pleaded with the European Commission to intervene and for talks to be held with the French government about the issue.

Commenting on the role of French utility EDF’s grid on the island, Senator Ian Gorst, Jersey’s Minister for External Relations, said: “We rely on it entirely, but we do have on island generation. However, that’s an old-fashioned power station that we’d have to power up.”

In the event France reduces its energy imports to the UK, Gorst said the island will leverage a waste to power facility on the island and some solar energy plants that have been running on Jersey since 2019. However, the local generators would not be able to produce enough electricity required to meet the energy demand on the island.