Dear members, friends and supporters
As signs increase that we are perhaps coming in sight of moving into what will be the new normal, we bring you some items of news about the harbour.
- Sewage treatment. As announced in the Isle of Wight County Press on 22nd May, the Statutory Harbour Authority is investing in new biological treatment plants for two houseboats, with a promise of more to come. This is welcome news, but nevertheless only crumbs from the table: The SHA has raised over £350,000 since 2012 from the sale of houseboat mooring leases. We have called on the owners to be transparent that this money is being spent on the harbour as it should be by law.
- Natural England environmental concerns. In November Natural England filed a very extensive set of environmental concerns about the proposed harbour property development scheme. Key elements of this remain unresolved – in particular the vital question of whether effluent and its nitrogen compounds from the scheme will drain into (a) the harbour (bad) or (b) into the Sandown treatment works (better). Given we don’t yet know the answer to this – though Southern Water advise that that the answer is ”into the harbour” – we were surprised to see in the County Press that the Solent Protection Society is calling on the IOW Planners AND Natural England to moderate their concerns on the scheme in order to prioritise economic recovery over environmental damage. We have replied to the County Press as follows; we have also sought to open what we hope will be meaningful discussions with SPS to clarify what actual benefits for the SHA and community they perceive in the developer’s scheme (as opposed to the benefits the developers achieve for themselves).
- Dredging is due to recommence in a few days. May 28 was mooted as a possible start, some say 1st June is in prospect: we await events. We note that dredging restarted in East Cowes and Portsmouth as early as 18th May and has been ongoing at Portsolent and elsewhere through the pandemic. We are unclear why this has not been possible in Bembridge but hope that after many false starts, we will actually see dredging happen on the date promised – this is not only vital to this summer’s sailing and boating programmes, but also to the ability of the harbour to retain its long term customers; a number seem to be voting with their feet and moving to other ports taking with them the incomes they would otherwise bring to the harbour and the community.
- Bembridge Groyne. Despite announcing their apparently unqualified support for this project continuing we understand that this is in sober reality still subject to BHT agreeing not to raise any more objections to the unrelated property development – the so called “limbo” state – an act of outright commercial blackmail totally inappropriate to a quasi public body such as the SHA. In an act of hope and faith which we applaud, BHUG have incurred significant fees in engineering studies to establish the feasibility of this project. They have written to their members to raise donations to bridge a gap in funding – we urge you to give this your consideration.
With best regards to all
Jeremy Gully (chair), Felix Hetherington (secretary), John Raymond, Chris Attrill, Sara Smith, Norman Marshall, Jonathan Bacon, William Bland ( co-opted) as Trustees
For and on behalf of
Bembridge Harbour Trust