A consultation by Brightlingsea Harbour Commissioners (BHC) over plans to create a 115-berth marina in Brightlingsea Creek has concluded that it would have a "significant impact on safe navigation" and should be refused.
A report issued by the harbour authority says that the additional marina pontoons proposed by Morgan Marine – which would project nearly 18m further into the navigable channel – would affect both commercial and leisure activities in the creek.
The harbour authority has was asked to consult local stakeholders by Tendring District Council (TDC), to which the planning application – which also includes shoreside improvements - was submitted earlier this year. BHC has the responsibility for safe navigation in the harbour area and the report points out that works within a marine area require a licence from the Marine Management Organisation – which Brightlingsea Info understands has not yet received an application from Morgan Marine.
Among those consulted were local boatowners, rowing and sailing clubs, former harbour masters and other boatyards. An 800 signature petition against the plans was also handed in to TDC and commercial pilots guiding ships into Oliver's Wharf – which adjoins the marina site – have previously said the development would lead to them withdrawing their services.
Before coming to its conclusion, BHC carried out detailed reports into the effects of the marina expansion on leisure and commercial users (see links below). The leisure report concluded that the "proposed pontoons would significantly reduce the ability of leisure users to access the main channel" while the commercial report said: "Based on the pilot risk assessment report and these bathymetric studies the proposed West Basin planning submission is not viable for safe navigation." It added: "The East Basin planning submission is not viable for safe navigation if ships overrun to the Folly (a gap between the islands in the creek just past the Morgan Marine site).
Morgan Marine's yard in Brightlingsea Creek
Surveys of ship turning activities at the wharf showed that some would hit or come close to a proposed dolphin designed to protect boats moored in the marina's East Basin, and very close to the proposed pontoons. The Thames barge Edme - based in St Osyth Creek - would be unable pass the proposed pontoons on neap tides, while access to moorings off Hickman's boatyard – next to Morgan Marine – would be restricted to six hours.
Further, the leisure report says that racing organised by the Colne Yacht Club would be restricted to just one hour in the creek, instead of four currently, and gig races by local rowing clubs would have their race window reduced by three hours.
"Leisure users also raised concerns about the narrowness of the distance between the proposed new pontoons and the fact that most would be at right angles to the water flow, making entering and exiting more challenging particularly if the winds were easterlies or westerlies, says the report. "The general consensus was that there would be a significant loss of amenity, alongside safety concerns."
The report concludes: "From the analyses and consultation carried out Brightlingsea Harbour Commissioners consider that the proposals would have a significant impact on safe navigation in the north channel fairway and therefore recommend that Tendring District Council Planning Committee rejects the application."
Brightlingsea Info has contacted Morgan Marine for a response.
Appendix 1 - Consultees
Appendix 2 - Commercial Users
Appendix 3 - Leisure Users