Aggregates to arrive by road as Brett’s berth at Ramsgate port is removed ‘as matter of urgency’

The old Berth 4/5

Aggregates firm Brett’s will bring supplies to their Ramsgate Port site by road while Berth 4/5 is out of action due to being decommissioned.

The decommissioning begins today (November 5) with Thanet council saying the berth now needs to be removed as a matter of urgency.

Thanet council says the berth has required significant maintenance this year to keep it in service and has suffered damage during the high winds and rough seas over the last week.

The berth replacement work has been postponed until early 2021 after Thanet council conceded than an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is needed.

Thanet council says berth 4/5, currently used by Brett Aggregrates, is ending its operational life and the authority has a “legally binding agreement” to provide berth facilities for the company.

A budget of £887,000 is being used for the replacement.

The first part of the berth is now in the inner harbour Photo Becky Wing

The contract for the works has been awarded to Bam Nuttall – using one of the pontoons that was formerly part of a two-for-one deal rejected by councillors last December.

The contract start date had originally been set for September 14. TDC previously raised concerns it could be delayed because the MMO wanted the work screened for an environmental impact assessment.

Councillors were told delays could cost the authority up to £11k a week. It was then earmarked for a November start date but will now not begin until next year.

The replacement pontoon will mean there is ability for a huge hike in capacity for the aggregate conveyor belt.

The existing berth consists of two steel barges.  The outer barge will be removed from its current service position today and will be made safe within the Inner East Marina of the Royal Harbour.  It will remain in this temporary position until it is removed from the water and dismantled for recycling in December.

The second barge will be moved over the next few weeks to the same location following the removal of the aggregate conveyor.

Dozens of objections have been lodged against the a proposal for a much larger replacement facility.

The new berth will be fitted with a permanently fixed 3,000 tonne/hour conveyor… “to facilitate future expansion for the landing of bulk cargos, the trafficking of mobile plant and with a lifespan of a minimum of 30 years.” It will be capable of docking 120m vessels.

The fixture will also be moved further away from the ro-ro berth.

A prior approval application under a ‘general permitted development order’ for the works at the Crown Estate leased site has been made by Thanet council.

But  issues raised include why there has not been an Environmental Impact Assessment for the site despite its proximity to areas of Special Scientific Interest; why the council is paying for improvements not requested by Brett Aggregates, which leases the site; why the increased aggregates capacity and whether industrial expansion is planned.

County councillor Karen Constantine, who represents Ramsgate at the authority, said: “I am greatly concerned that the hard pressed people of Ramsgate are, in effect subsidising Brett, who setting Covid to one side, usually enjoy healthy profits as a group. Brett reported profits of £3,650,000 in 2018.

“The Port of Ramsgate has been designated as industrial by KCC as part of the County’s aggregates provision. KCC and TDC could have noticed the lack of EIA several years ago.

“However, Thanet residents really shouldn’t have to subsidise a commercial operation especially during these hard times. Is it now time to seek to renegotiate the contract? I am seeking expert advice to ascertain if this is possible.”