A Thanet council project to replace berth 4/5 at Ramsgate Port has spiralled from an original £1.497 million budget to £2.322million.
The hike in cost has been blamed on an “unanticipated delay” due to the need for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to be undertaken for planning and marine licence consents.
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.”
Brett Aggregates, which uses the berth, is currently bringing gravels in by road to the site at the Port of Ramsgate
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 that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was needed. The authority said this would mean a delay in works until October this year.
The council has a contractual obligation with Brett Aggregates 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 2020 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.
Now Cabinet members are being asked to make an urgent decision to approve more spending as costs rise.
The report says: “The delay in progressing and completing the project has directly impacted upon the overall scheme cost. The additional costs (over and above the approved £1.497m budget value) as a result of the delay are estimated at £825k, bringing the revised total estimated costs to £2.322m.
“The increase consists of additional revenue costs totalling £445k and capital expenditure totalling £380k.”
Incurred costs include an additional £261,000 to works contractors Bam Nuttall and £180,000 to Brett Aggregates for the cost of transporting gravels by lorry, as well as £55,000 for connection to services on quayside such as power and water which was not included in the original contract. There is also a need for £50,000 for dredging.
Some £105,000 will be taken from existing budgets but that still leaves a shortfall of £720,000.
Part of the funding will be found through borrowing £275k. The report says: “Over the expected 20 year life of the pontoon this will result in an annual debt repayment of £13.5k and interest payments of £6k. There is no provision in the revenue budget for this £19.5k increase in the council’s debt and interest repayments and as such will increase the budget gap forecast for 2022-23.”
The EIA is yet to be carried out, meaning £55,000 is needed to fund this work from next month.
Cabinet members are also being asked to approve £325k capital budget funding and an additional £445k revenue costs.
The report says if Cabinet members do not approve the additional funding it will require the decision to be taken to full council in September for consideration. This would result in further delay and a further increase in costs for the council.
The revised project completion date is now August 19 2022. It had originally been January 31 of this year.
The outcomes from the EIA are required to be completed before a marine licence process or Prior Approval application can be resumed.
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 had been made by Thanet council.