Aggregates firm Brett’s will continue to bring supplies to its Ramsgate Port site by road until at least the end of October due to a delay in replacing the firm’s berth.
Floating Berth 4/5 transfers aggregates from ship to shore but the existing berth was decommissioned in November when Thanet council said it needed to be removed “as a matter of urgency.”
The council said the berth required significant maintenance last year to keep it in service and had suffered damage during the high winds and rough seas.
The berth replacement work was originally postponed until early this year after Thanet council conceded than an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is needed.
But now Thanet council says the replacement of the berth will not begin until mid-October.
The council has a contractual obligation to provide a berth for the handling of aggregates and a tender was awarded to Bam Nuttall last year for the replacement of the berth, using one of the pontoons that was formerly part of a two-for-one deal rejected by councillors in December 2019.
In October Thanet District Council acknowledged that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) would be needed as part of the Prior Approval application for the replacement of Berth 4/5.
A statement was released at the time confirming that the project would be delayed and further work has now been carried out on a revised programme for the project.
The outcomes from the EIA are required to be completed before a marine licence process or Prior Approval application can be resumed. The project will also require an Appropriate Assessment for conservation of habitats and species.
The delayed date for works is due to the need for these consents to be carried out consecutively.
Thanet council says: “This date is based upon the time required to complete the EIA and the statutory timescales published by the consenting bodies. A four week period is also included in the programme to allow the required dredging to take place immediately before works commence on site.
“Brett Aggregates are currently bringing course aggregates (gravels) by road to their site at the Port of Ramsgate following the decommissioning and removal of the old berth last November.
“These road deliveries will continue until the replacement berth has been installed and commissioned. Finer aggregate (sand) continues to be delivered to the Bretts site by sea as normal. This is possible because the vessel that brings sand does not require a berth to transfer its cargo to shore. This vessel does not carry coarse aggregates.”
A budget of £887,000 is being used for the replacement.
Last year councillors were told delays could cost the authority up to £11k a week.
The replacement pontoon will mean there is capability for a hike in capacity for the aggregate conveyor belt. The old berth supported a 400 tonne per hour conveyor belt and was capable of docking 90m vessels.
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.
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.