Marine licence application for berth replacement project at Ramsgate Port withdrawn

The old Berth 4/5

A Thanet council project to replace berth 4/5 at Ramsgate Port has been further delayed and an application for a marine licence submitted last year has been withdrawn.

Floating Berth 4/5 transfers aggregates from ship to shore but the existing berth was decommissioned in November 2020 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

Brett Aggregates at Ramsgate Port

The berth replacement work was originally postponed until early this year after Thanet council said that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was needed. The authority said this would mean a delay in works until October this year.

However, works are still delayed and the marine licence application has now been withdrawn until the EIA, which assesses the effects that a project may have on the environment and people, is completed.

A Thanet council spokesperson said the application will be resubmitted next year.

They said: “The Marine Licence Application for berth 4/5 has been withdrawn and will be resubmitted following the completion of an Environmental Impact Assessment. It is anticipated that the new licence application will be made early next year (2022).”

(UPDATE NOV 19) Council leader Ash Ashbee said: “Following the decision of Cabinet on Thursday 29 July 2021, to progress the required Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed replacement of Berth 4/5 at the Port of Ramsgate, it has been decided to withdraw the previous marine licence application with the intention of resubmitting a new application in January 2022.

“This will ensure that both the outline planning and Marine Management Organisation licence applications can run concurrently. It remains the intention for construction to commence in May 2022.

“The output of the EIA will be an Environmental Statement which will inform both the planning prior approval application and also the new marine licence application to the Marine Management Organisation.

“Both the planning prior approval application and the marine licence application will be subject to a 42 day consultation period.”

Project costs

The costs for the project have spiralled from an original £1.497 million budget to £2.322million.

The hike in cost has been blamed on the “unanticipated delay” due to the need for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to be undertaken for planning and marine licence consents.

The council says it 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.

A report to councillors in July this year asking for approval of the further costs said: “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.”

Replacement pontoon

Bam Nuttall pontoon ( 2019) Photo Brian Whitehead

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.

Old berth in green, proposed new in red

The now withdrawn marine application from TDC says: “The replacement pontoon berth will fulfil the same purpose as the existing berth – unloading gravel and sand from vessels into a hopper and conveyor system fixed onto the pontoon, delivering the aggregate to shore, where it is stored by the terminal operator.”

County Councillor Karen Constantine, who represents Ramsgate at KCC, said: “Who’s going to foot this increased bill? The people of Ramsgate are sick to the back teeth of paying for mistake after mistake at TDC. It’s quite wrong and deliberately misleading of TDC to say the costs are increasing due to the need for an EIA.

“A development of this type, in a sensitive area adjacent to Pegwell Bay SSSI, was always going to need an EIA. Indeed the specialised nature of our coastal ecology should always be of paramount importance. It is also the reason why any increase in either aggregate activity or handling of waste will always be unacceptable as a high risk activity. As we have seen with Southern Water, pollution is a serious matter.

“I raised the need for an EIA in 2016.  I advised TDC in 2018 that it was their responsibility and not KCC’s to undertake one. TDC have therefore had ample time and opportunity to tackle this issue. If the Chief Executive has failed to deal with this matter, resulting in an even higher cost to the public purse, she should do the right thing and resign.”

Aggregate berth at Ramsgate Port will be replaced by Bam Nuttall pontoon despite former rejection of ‘direct deal’

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