By Local Democracy Reporter Jordan Ifield
Construction work on the controversial berth replacement at Ramsgate port has now started.
A replacement for Berth 4/5 was approved last month by Thanet council following the decommissioning of the previous structure.
Now a marine licence has been issued, meaning construction can begin and dredging on the site has started.
The berth will be installed during August before being commissioned in September.
Despite being the sole user of the berth, Brett Aggregates isn’t responsible for building a replacement as Thanet council said it has a contractual obligation to do so.
At a Cabinet meeting last night (June 16) leader of the council Cllr Ash Ashbee (Cons) said: “The project is now entering the works phase with dredging having started earlier this week.
“Work was meant to have started on June 9 but has started a few days later due to an operational issue with the dredger which is now resolved.
“We anticipate that piling and installing the berth will be completed by the end of August and it will be commissioned in September.”
The 119m replacement 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 it was revealed the allocation for the project had increased from an original £1.497 million budget to £2.322million.
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, and the terms of the lease meaning Thanet council is footing the bill, from councillors and residents.
Cllr Becky Wing (Green) said: “I certainly think the lease has left us in a shocking situation where our residents are expected to pay a massive bill, but there’s nothing we can do about that.
“We should be seriously looking at making sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Meanwhile Cllr Steve Albon (Lab) was rather swift in his comments: “All I want to say is thank God. Thank God work on berth 4/5 is underway and is going to be resolved and be put to bed.”
A report by Independent Monitoring Officer, Quentin Baker last month into failings at Thanet council highlighted the berth replacement project and recommended an independent review/audit be undertaken of the project from its inception to the present day with a view to identifying the causes of delay and cost overruns which have beset it.
Additional reporting Kathy Bailes
Good,about time they started
Good, about time they started fulfilling a contract so dodgy and costly to Thanet residents that the IMO recommended a review of project governance from inception to now. All the brown paper bag recipients behind the original secret lease and now this further industrialisation of Ramsgate, have been incredibly patient so why make them wait any longer? What’s another £1m or more between friends, as long as its our money disappearing? We should be grateful for anything they do, even if its against us.
Better to deliver by sea than by road.Industrialization – if it isn’t polluting- is a perfectly reasonable way to use a port.
Seals the fate of the commercial harbour……A dirty polluting aggregate / batching plant is hardly the brightest future for the Harbour….Brett’s have certainly got a golden goose in TDC…
Sadly it’s us ratepayers who foot the bill !
There are four basic ingredients. Cement powder, sand, aggregate and water.
The last three are to be found in vast volumes in Thanet in general and Ramsgate in particular, all occurring naturally.
The cement powder is the vital, and costly, ingredient. If it were not stored in hermetically sealed containers, it would go “off” and be useless.
So where’s all this pollution?
The pollution of building it .. just being Frank 🙂
Be thankful it’s only a concrete batching plant and not a tarmac one then you would have something to winge about smell etc. But then who knows what Bretts may do about that in years to come?
Good for bretts,let’s hope they expand and take on some more workers
i would have prefered cross channel ferrys to millions of tons of ballast , but then the biggest brown envelope wins again i suppose
We’re surrounded by millions of tonnes of ballast. It’s called “the beach”
If cross channel operators saw it as potentially profitable then they would be there like a flash, similarly airlines didn’t purchase an airport at a pittance when they had the opportunity…..
I must say how nice it was the other day sitting around the harbour on military road.
Watch all the HGV trying to make their way pass all the little shops under the arches.
What a novel way to bring tourists in, having a coffee only feet away from a HGV.
Why does the tunnel which isnt used alot need so much maintenance ? It must be closed at least once a month.
That’s something I wonder about, given how little it’s used.
If maintenance is so necessary, why not do it on Sundays?
TDC seems to specialise in signing contracts that cost them enormous sums of money.
They had to refurbish all the multi story car parks at great cost, and now have to build a brand new berth to replace one put in by Brett’s .Do they not have a legal department, or were they all asleep.
And still nobody can explain the benefit to Ramsgate of our tax money funding the expansion of a private firm who employ v few folks.
Just who does think this is a good idea, and why?