The States of Alderney have decided to debate their apparent determination to terminate the Alderney Bird Observatory’s lease of the Nunnery at the next States Meetings on 19th May 2021.
Whilst we would be disappointed to lose the Nunnery, we wish to reassure our members and supporters that this is not material to our formal accreditation as the twentieth Bird Observatory in the British Isles. Our international standing has never been higher and our ongoing scientific research work will be unaffected. There are plenty of excellent accommodation providers on Alderney and many of our visitors already chose to stay in more luxurious accommodation than we are able to provide at the Nunnery. Sadly, we may lose those birders and wildlife enthusiasts who wish to stay as a group and enjoy the excellent facilities and location of the Nunnery.
We have been in negotiations in good faith with the General Services Committee with regard to changes in our relationship with the States since early this year. These negotiations were to be concluded by 30th June, at the request of GSC. We were surprised and shocked to learn that this had been superseded by this decision of the Policy and Finance Committee taken on 8th April It appears to have been rushed through under Committee Reports, presumably to pre-empt any further discussion with ourselves. The minutes were only made public on 6th May and we had no prior warning of their content in relationship to the Bird Observatory.
There has been much talk of government support for businesses affected by Covid in 2020 but it seems that the States’ attitude to us is more one of “death by a thousand cuts” with the loss of the trees and then the Ringing Room at the Nunnery, the lack of cooperation from Visit Alderney to promote us , the very public sacking of the Bird Warden on a States Billet and now the possible termination of our lease at the Nunnery.
Whilst we agree that the States needs to urgently look for new economic levers for Alderney, the apparent dismantling of support for the Bird Observatory after five years of hard work, much of it from unpaid volunteers, and considerable States investment is difficult to understand. The value of the international coverage Alderney receives from our activities far exceeds the financial support we receive from the States, as evidenced by the recent full page coverage in the New Scientist.
We hope we can persuade the States to meet with us and review their decision but, in any event, the Alderney Bird Observatory is committed to continue the scientific work that brings international recognition and visitors to Alderney.