BHT try to avoid rising to misinformation unless it is significantly misleading or damaging to the harbour commercially or environmentally. In the case of statements by Mr Thorpe in the recent BHAG minutes we believe some correction and expansion is needed. Within this response some evidence is provided in links.
The Minutes state ( bold text) :
“We [ MT and FT] have repeatedly requested that they [BHT Trustees] resign and be replaced with new trustees, elected by the BHT membership. It seems their choice is not to do so.”
Whereas BHT Trustees are elected by the members. BHT’s constitution ensures Trustees resign in rotation and they or any new Trustees are approved (or not) by the members at the AGM. Further, at the most recent AGM members unanimously backed the actions of the Trustees.
“We would however be more than happy to consider any other submissions [for a purchase of the Harbour] from within the community.”
Mr Thorpe had previously stated that offer to purchase the harbour from a party associated with BHT would not be considered. This clarification is welcome. Clearly a community interest group would be the preferred option, but this could be achieved without the involvement of BHT Trustees. Our interest is not in who, but how.
“A sale could be all or part of the main elements of the business – the Harbour itself, elements of land and the property development, BBS as a separate business. Serious enquiries are being handled by our brokers/agent. It is very early days in the process.”
The lack of specifics is unhelpful, not least as (subject to the actions of the Minister etc) the SHA may have reason for substantial claims against Hawk Property Developments and Bembridge Investments Limited as recipients of large amounts of the SHA’s incomes.
A failure to pursue, those claims could leave the SHA unnecessarily – and wrongly – impoverished.
“MS raised the issue of dredging carried out some way from the Channel and outside the Dredging Protocol. MT confirmed that such dredging is permitted under the Harbour Act 1963.”
This appears to be a declaration of an active breach of an agreement made between the SHA, IWC and Natural England.
This is in itself extraordinary. It is further troubling, bearing in mind the SHA’s obligations under the 1964 Harbours Act (section 48a) and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 – as a statutory undertaker it must consult Natural England before carrying our works that may impact an SSSI.
Marine Management Organisation (MMO)
“………. following complaints submitted to them. The first, about the building of the seawall at the Duver and infill of the slipway, claiming that it would result in water in the Harbour being higher that it normally is with the statement: “The new sea wall will artificially alter the high-water line” (quotation added post the meeting).”
There was obviously no claim that “it [the new sea wall] would result in water in the Harbour being higher that it normally is” as that would be absurd.
What is clear to any observer is the line where the tide reaches will be artificially altered by the works, ie the high-water line will be moved.
This does not alter the land ownership boundary as claimed by Mr Thorpe.
With reference to 4 new piles and 4 new pontoons the minutes state “We believe that these complaints were all submitted by Jeremy Gully/BHT.”
Mr Thorpe also advised that BHT made “complaints” about 4 driven piles and 4 new pontoons. This is incorrect.
In fact BHT sought clarity on regulation by email (link here). Our concern was that uncontrolled proliferation of piles and pontoons could lead to difficulties in navigation. We wished to establish what consents, including licencing and any necessary planning permission, where required. These processes would allow for public consultation and reasoned controls.
As is clear from correspondence (link here) the MMO themselves made a decision to investigate potential breaches.
Planning permission would also be required, but was not sought. Russell Chick, planning officer confirmed “ There is a section at the end of the Harbour Act that does confirm the need for planning consent. Based on that, I will be writing to the Harbour Authority today to understand what the works relate to.”
Building work at the Duver Marina:
“6.1 Building work on the sea wall is making good progress.”
Commencement was in breach of 6 planning conditions that need to be satisfied prior start of works. It was also in conflict with the express requirements on Natural England as they set out before the planning permission was granted and subsequently re-asserted as follows:
“I understand that there has been some speculation about works being carried out at the development site prior to the mitigation being secured. For the avoidance of doubt, no impacts to the designated sites or functionally-linked land should not be permitted until the mitigation is in place and functioning.”
The Planning Officer confirms the breaches “I have spoken to the applicant and advised that the works are in breach of the planning conditions”. On the planning file, as well as Natural England, concerns have also been expressed by the Environment Agency, Island Roads (and BHT).
For and on behalf of
Bembridge Harbour Trust