A consultation process has begun to designate Lager Sylt, the site of the only World War II Nazi concentration camp on British soil as a Conservation Area.
Although Lager Sylt – run by the infamous Nazi SS – is a protected zone near Alderney Airport, it does not have the full legal protection of the Island’s official list of Historic Buildings, Ancient Monuments and Conservation Areas, as is the case with other sites such as Longis Common.
Kevin Gentle, Chairman of the Island’s Building and Development Control Committee (BDCC), explained to Channel Eye: “It is a site of great suffering for many, and part of Alderney’s history which mustn’t be allowed to be forgotten.”
He told the States of Alderney meeting on June 23rd that a 2017 decision to add Lager Sylt to the official list was not followed through for ‘unknown reasons’.
BDCC resolved earlier this month to add Lager Sylt and the Chief Executive’s office immediately began the consultation process with landowners. As soon as it is registered, full legal protection will be given to the ruins including the gateposts, sentry posts, some foundations and a small tunnel which led from the camp commandant’s house to the inside of the camp.
Answering a question by fellow Member Alex Snowdon, Mr Gentle expressed a hope that Lager Sylt and other sites could be named Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) which provide protection not only for habitats but also archaeological aspects and anything underground.
The Island’s Building and Development Control Law allows the States to control the use of any machinery, equipment or appliance for the purpose of detecting or excavating below the surface of the land any building or object of special historic, architectural, traditional, artistic or archaeological interest.
“We are in the world’s spotlight,” added Mr Gentle. “Everything we do will be scrutinised so we must ensure that every step that we take here is correct but, more importantly, sensitive. We have to protect our heritage.”
Mr Gentle added that after seeking Civil Service advice he was assured there would be no impact on the Lager Sylt site from proposed work on the Airport runway but an Environmental Impact Assessment would clarify this point.
There are currently seven Conservation Areas on Alderney – the town of St Anne including Braye Road, the Braye and Grosnez Peninsula, Part of the valley known as “Ladysmith”, Longis Common and the surrounding area, Strangers Cemetery (Longis Road), Fort Quesnard Battery and Gauvain’s Row, Newtown. Lager Sylt will become the eighth.
Main photo: by Martin Batt.