Aggregate berth project at Ramsgate Port likely to be approved by councillors

The old Berth 4/5

A Thanet council project to replace berth 4/5 at Ramsgate Port is likely to be approved next week.

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

Last year The Isle of Thanet News revealed the allocation for the project has increased from an original £1.497 million budget to £2.322million.

The rise 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.

Brett Aggregates Photo Angela Stevens

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.

The replacement pontoon will mean there is capability for greater 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

Some 32 letters of objection have been received raising concerns including fears the development would result in an increase in aggregate imports, the effect on local ecology and increase in pollution.

In the planning committee document comment from Green councillor Tricia Austin says: “As one of the ward Councillors for Central Harbour ward which covers Ramsgate Port, I’m speaking both for myself and for many residents who have asked me to express their concerns about this development.

“The reasons I’ve highlighted show potential concerns such as noise and pollution, which are almost inevitable from the construction phase, but may be short-lived. Whether they will remain concerns thereafter we have no way of knowing, as even as a ward councillor I have next to no information about what is planned here, and local residents have none at all.

“We were advised that the previous berths 4/5 were deemed unsafe and had to be removed. We are also advised that Bretts, who pay an extraordinarily modest rent for their facility on the port, had not asked for any replacement or increase in the facility. Yet we are apparently proposing to replace the old berths with something 313% bigger. We are also simultaneously maintaining that this is a ‘like for like replacement’ and at the same time that we expect to be increasing not only the berth’s size (which might perhaps be justified on safety grounds) but also its conveyer capacity by a factor of 7.5.

“When this was discussed at council last year, the previous Leader insisted that the then administration had no plans to increase or diversify the use of these berths. If this remains the case, the increase in size, disruption and potential negative impact on residents and the neighbouring SSSI cannot be justified. If on the other hand this does not remain the case, the matter should clearly be brought back to Council for full discussion and proper democratic decision.”

Fellow councillor Becky Wing raises a number of concerns around environmental concerns, dredging requirements and also the berth expansion. She said: “The development is described as a ‘similar floating berth facility’ when in fact it will be different in a number of critical features.

“The new berth will be 317% larger and with a longer 46m connecting gangway will have an overall increased total length of 119m. In addition, TDC have indicated this berth will be capable of housing a 3000 tonne per hour conveyer, in previous documentation, representing a very significant difference in terms of capacity and potential function, given the previous capacity was 400 tonnes per hour.

“It is reassuring that in this application TDC states that ‘the function will not change and that there will be a single operator’ the existing leaseholder but again this is at odds with what is stated in previous documentation which mentions ‘bulk cargo and wood pellets’ being possible imports via this new berth and so further clarification is needed.”

County Councillor Karen Constantine said she spent years obtaining clarification that the legally required EIA – environmental impact assessment – had not been undertaken.

She added: “Thanet District Council and any councillors and officers involved in making this decision, should have understood that an EIA was unequivocally required. They only have themselves to blame for an increase in costs based on their ignorance. The fact that the pontoons were purchased without taking that into consideration, and the fact that no proposals or even an outline business plan has been shared to demonstrate the need for development is lamentable.

“I have raised the matter of the designation of the port, as an industrial site, several times at KCC in recent years. The County does require a supply of aggregates and the Port of Ramsgate is designated as one of those sites, however it is simply appalling that both TDC and KCC would consider any further development that could potentially harm the immediate environment and residents. It time over due for a fresh plan for the Port, one that will enhance Ramsgate for those both living here and tourists visiting.”

Bam Nuttall pontoon ( 2019) Photo Brian Whitehead

Thanet council has also submitted a Marine Licence application to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). Consultation on this opened last month.

Construction works are expected to be undertaken over a two to three-month period. If approved, on-site preparatory work is expected to start at the end of this month with marine works starting in June.

Kent County Council minerals and waste statement says: “Kent will increasingly be reliant on imported aggregates into the future, as the availability of sustainable land-won resources in the County declines and marine wharves (together with rail aggregate depots) will play an ever-increasing role in enabling supply to meet the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), namely ensuring a steady and adequate supply of these important materials. Maintaining the ability of marine aggregate wharves, such as that at the Port of Ramsgate, to import and distribute minerals is vital to this strategy.”

Planning officers recommend approval, saying: “The siting, and design and appearance of the proposed berth is considered to be appropriate for the port location, and subject to the mitigation measures set out within the Environmental Statement, Appropriate Assessment and as requested by consultees including KCC Biodiversity, this proposal is not considered to result in any significant impacts upon the environment or adverse effects upon the integrity of the designated sites.”

Thanet councillors will meet on Wednesday,May 18 to discuss the issue.

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

Cost of aggregates berth replacement project at Ramsgate Port spirals to £2.3million

Marine licence application for berth replacement project at Ramsgate Port withdrawn

Consultation opens on marine licence for Ramsgate Port berth replacement

40 Comments

  1. Seeing the original structure had planning permission purely for the construction of the Ramsgate approach road tunnel in 1997, with the conveyor belt system installed and maintained by Brett’s , it seems slightly odd that a purpose built berth and conveyor system is now being installed by TDC.

  2. So Folkestone develops their old port into a great mixed use area, with loads of places to eat and drink regenerating the area and creating loads of jobs and brings tourists in by the bucket load.

    But TDC think I know what would be better, let’s just use council tax payers money to fund a cement company there and pay for everything they need and pretty much bank roll them so they make loads of profit and do nothing with the site that brings anything to the town.

    Wow what a great council we have! Something stinks here, this council is a total joke!

    • So agree with this. It seems Jo public it ratepayers are totally ignored and yet they waste our money and the costs mount up – so blinkered in their goal no matter what else is going on around them. What about following legal procedures etc.

  3. What’s the problem?
    It’s a commercial port.
    Far better to bring in the aggregates by sea than by road.

    • And just maybe what is needed to get some other trade-in and port starts to earn its keep forward-thinking me thinks

    • It’s not a commercial port, it is a loss making money pit that bank rolls one single company called Bretts.

      How many millions of pounds of council tax payers money have been spent on Bretts, it doesn’t add up and someone is getting a back hander somewhere as the contract that TDC gave them is a joke, have a ready of it if you haven’t. Bretts are laughing all the way to the bank.

      • There was a ro-ro ferry, until the Eurotunnel took the business.
        There’s the estuary pilots and Vattenfall windfarm vessels.
        There’s fishing craft.
        There’s animal exports (like it or not, it earns money for Thanet). And there’s Brett’s.
        So yes, it is a commercial port.
        And nearby is the Georgian seaside town of Ramsgate, with its marina, Royal Harbour, sands, bathing, ice cream, teas, bars, fish and chips etc ..

        • So therefore the ro-ro ferry is of no concern because it stopped a decade ago, clutching at straws aren’t you.

          The estuary pilots use the main harbour as do the Vattenfall windfarm boats, as do the fishing boats, there hasn’t been an animal export from there in a long time either and when there was it was maybe 4 – 5 a year, hardly bringing in much money.

          So back to my original point the ONLY busniess that uses that old port is Brett’s!

          You are arguing just for sake of it like you normally do, stop being so ignorant.

          • That Brett’s is currently the only business using the port is no reason to turn the place into some ghastly “marine village”. Surely, the onus is on TDC to better market the facilities?
            And, if it closed, where would Tony Freudmann’s electric barges go?

          • The port needs as many industries as possible, the greener the better. What does the environmental statement say about pollution from Brett’s? Is there any and if so, how much, and what is it?

  4. If this goes ahead, we have no chance of Ramsgate ever being the prosperous and welcoming seaside town that it, like Folkestone, could so easily become. The stink from the top of TDC pervades all of Thanet. Just imagine the huge offshore bundle behind this scam!

  5. So does this make the port deficit £15 million over the last 10 years. Amazing how such small authority can afford to waste so much money.

    • But the council has no money for the basics like keeping the towns streets clean, makes you wonder whats going on doesn’t it.

      Just think what the £15 million could have done for the town in a good way that benefitted all.

      As said there are some large brown envelopes going round, or some dodgy pictures of people high up in the council in the wrong hands.

  6. Hopefully the application for a marine licence is actually successful.
    Can see the final cost exceed £4m but its not about the cost, its who has to pay’s for the fiasco.

  7. Millions have been wasted on supporting Brett Aggregates and the facility that council tax payers have funded, the only beneficiary being the directors and shareholders of Brett Aggregates while council tax payers are simply expected to continue picking up the tab.
    It is simply a scheme to take public money and put it in the pocket of Brett’s with the complicity of successive administrations in Cecil Square. Shameful.

  8. Again TDC no imagination,a large area like the harbour could be turned into à retail village, they could easily google American marinas for ideas, there is money to be made in that port area also turn the old hoverport into a nature park, again TDC use find imagination for the future.

  9. I see liquid coming into the port on a daily basis. I haven’t investigated what the issue is yet but it will be good for the shareholders I am sure.

  10. Marva

    For someone who claims to have Ramsgate’s interests at heart you seem to spend a lot of time at odds who with those who appear to want to protect its environmental interests.

    I don’t think anyone objects to the port being used constructively but there is a difference between light industry and chucking thousands of tons of cement around, especially considering that the port sits directly between beautiful protected Pegwell Bay and the Royal Harbour conservation zone.

    Less corruption and some constructive thinking could be so beneficial for the town.

  11. The residue on my windows would suggest otherwise Marva. Have you seen the giant piles of aggregates left outside and available to blow all over Ramsgate? I see them every day.

    The thing that REALLY doesn’t make sense is why are local tax payers funding one private company?

    Perhaps Madeline or Gavin, or the leader Ash, could help us understand in what ways does Ramsgate benefit from this public private subsidy? Most folks think it is preposterous use of public funds when TDC can’t even keep our streets clean or regenerate our town centre and yet here we are dropping millions on a private company.

    Further scrutiny is required. I’m just grateful some of our elected councillors have our interests at heart.

  12. I think that before people launch into another slagging-off session targeting Brett’s, the council needs to publicize the results of the environmental statement.If it turns out that the firm’s producing vast amounts of pollution, then the residents of Ramsgate will have good reasons to criticize it. But at present it seems as if Brett’s is the target of a local anti- industry witch-hunt.

  13. “Have you seen the giant piles of aggregates left outside and available to blow all over Ramsgate” …
    How absurd!
    We live at the seaside. There are millions of tonnes of sand and gravel around us. It’s called “the beach”.
    How are you able to differentiate between the residue on your window from Brett’s, and that from the beach?

  14. More absurd than tax payers funding something that a private company didn’t even ask for?

    Big difference between sand and cement too. Just in case you didn’t realise that…

    Ramsgate is far from anti industry. I didn’t hesr

  15. You all screaming in protest when the Vatenfall expansion failed. There was an industry, a clean one, looking to expand and they were told to bugger off with their plans.

    Brett’s rock up and get TDC spending millions on them. I’m not hugely bothered they’re there if they run a clean operation, pay appropriate rent, and don’t let their aggregates blow around, but I to object to my tax funding their private expansion especially when they didn’t ask for it and when they get cheapo rates.

  16. Emmerline: so enamoured was I of your perceptive, penetrating, punchy and pointed comments about the much-fabled Manston Airport that (with my wives’ permission) I was proposing to propose to you.
    But your comments about sand, cement and aggregate have had me reaching for my little black book, and thumbing through for Ann and Leslie’s phone numbers.
    Cement powder, once it becomes damp, “cures” – it goes hard.
    Cement powder is a lot more expensive than sand and gravel.
    Therefore, it is kept in air-tight silos.
    What’s more, the prevailing wind is from the south west. Therefore, in the unlikely event that Brett’s operators were chucking bucketfulls of the stuff around, it would be blown out to sea. The likelihood of cement powder sullying your windows is remote.
    However: get a small sample (a teaspoonful would do) of the residue. Very lightly dampen it, and leave for 24 hours. Then tip it out. If it comes out in substantially one lump, then I take back my criticism, and offer my abject and fulsome apologies- and the offer of matrimony is still on the table.

  17. Andrew. I accept your proposal. With alacrity. Let’s have our reception on one of Tony’s electric barges and I’ll ride down the aisle (the runway surely) naked on a Manston unicorn.

  18. If ot goes ahead it will be ruined by feral youth they will meet there cause trouble sell drugs , drink, start anti social behaviour, police will be called all the time … maybe build holding cells so they can cut out the middle man !? … it won’t be a safe place to visit .. help

  19. If the port gain more business with more HGV’s coming and going it would be a nightmare in ramsgate at least once a month.
    Because for some bizarre reason the port tunnel has to close once a month for maintenance !!. So all HGV would have to go out passed all the harbour shops and cafes.

  20. As you say Andrew the prevailing wind comes from the south west and to the North East of the port is the Royal Harbour Conservation Zone and Ramsgate Town not “out to sea”.
    Yes cement cures when it gets wet in the lining of your lungs.

    • You are talking nonsense.
      The town of Ramsgate is not to the BE of the Brett’s site: the North Sea is. Look at a map. Stick a pin in the site of Brett’s, and draw a line at 45 degrees. What does it cross?
      But, as it happens, it’s all academic, because Brett’s is not in the habit of chucking its vital raw materials to the four winds.
      If you know something different, put up the evidence.

  21. What is the royal harbour conservation zone?
    And why would a firm which makes concrete leave concrete powder uncovered?

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