A new marine licence application has been submitted to the Marine Management Organisation today (January 28) for the proposed replacement of the aggregate Berth 4/5 at the Port of Ramsgate.
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
An earlier marine licence application was withdrawn in November 2021 following advice from Thanet council in October 2020 due to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) needing to be undertaken.
The revised application will include an Environmental Statement (ES). This application and the ES will be available on the Marine Management Organisation’s website following validation of the application. The marine licence application will be subject to a 42 day consultation period.
The Environmental Statement is also being used for the ‘prior approval’ planning application which was submitted today. This can be seen via the Thanet District Council website following validation of the application and will be subject to a 30 day consultation period.
If approved, on-site preparatory work is expected to start at the end of May with marine works starting in June.
The berth replacement work was originally postponed until early last 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 last year.
However, the marine licence application was then withdrawn until the EIA, which assesses the effects that a project may have on the environment and people, was completed.
The costs for the project have spiralled from an original £1.497 million budget to £2.322million.
The hike in cost was 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 in 2020 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 last year asked for approval of the further costs, saying: “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 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.
Thanet council previously said: “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, and Green Party councillor Becky Wing raised issues over the need for the environmental impact study required when the works were first proposed.
Cllr Constantine said: “Inevitably costs will rise if those responsible for this development, both TDC and KCC, evade accountability and insist on dragging their feet. It took from 2017 until 2020 for me to obtain clarity on whether or not their was an EIA for the Port.
“I have noticed a concerning pattern developing amongst my Conservative counterparts at KCC, regarding concerns being raised and in some cases legal action being taken by residents. Residents should always be free to challenge decisions and Councillor’s like myself and others shouldn’t be continually‘fobbed off’.
“The required consultation should extend to nearby residents. There are several hundred homes within 500 metre radius who must now be consulted properly.”