Thanet District Council’s Planning Committee tonight (May 18) approved an application for the installation of a 119m berth at the Port of Ramsgate.
It follows the removal of the previous berth 4/5 in November 2020, which had “reached the end of its operational life”.
The proposed berth consists of a floating pontoon held in place by steel piles. A hinged gangway will provide access whilst accommodating tidal movement. The berth will be longer and wider than the previous 70m long berth.
The contract for the berth was awarded to the firm that previously had its direct deal offer of two-for-one pontoons rejected by Thanet council.
The pontoons, owned by construction firm Bam Nuttall, had been the subject of the deal and destined to provide a new berth 4/5 at the port and to provide extra berthing for wind farm vessels at the Royal Harbour.
Councillors were asked to approve the £1.4million decision to buy the two 75 metre barges but members opted to reject the plan in December 2019.
However, it was put it out to tender but dropping proposals for the second pontoon at the harbour. The contract was then given to Bam Nuttall.
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.
The council says it has a contractual obligation with Brett Aggregates to provide a berth for the handling of aggregates.
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.
There has been considerable opposition to the project from councillors and residents.
The council has also submitted a Marine Licence application to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) for the sea based elements of the proposed development. This licence will be required prior to the start of construction of the berth.
The berth is scheduled to be installed during the summer months to avoid significant impacts on overwintering birds. As construction will be within a commercial port, the council says it is not considered that this would result in a significant impact upon tourism in the area.
The vote to approve was 6 For, 3 Against and 4 Abstained. Green councillors Becky Wing and Mike Garner voted against.