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Application for second wave barrier by Port of Dover to protect Marina Curve pontoons


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Pontoons installed as part of a £250 million docks redevelopment remain deserted after fears vessels could be damaged if they use them.

Not a single berth was filled at Dover Marina yesterday (Tuesday) morning, as our photograph shows, and critics say it is down to "poor design".

The empty pontoons at the Marina Curve this week. Picture: Sam Lennon
The empty pontoons at the Marina Curve this week. Picture: Sam Lennon
Plenty of boats using berths at Wellington Dock, also photographed yesterday morning, Picture: Sam Lennon KMG
Plenty of boats using berths at Wellington Dock, also photographed yesterday morning, Picture: Sam Lennon KMG

The facilities at the new Marina Curve were built three years ago but are regularly empty.

The source of the problem is that the floating pontoons at the Marina Curve become too unstable when the sea is rough.

The port authority is now trying to build a second wave barrier to solve the problem.

Their plan is the subject of a 42-day consultation for people to have their say that ends on Friday, January 22.

Ward district councillor Edward Biggs said: "As far as I am aware the pontoons were supposed to be ready for use in 2019, and the issue has been that the yacht owners have been reluctant to use the berths because of the potential damage."

"This is all getting a bit messy."

Cllr Biggs had already said that these problems should have been considered and that this was a "disaster due to poor design".

He has said a public inquiry should be held to find out what has gone wrong.

Joanna Thomson, of Goodwin Sands SOS (Save Our Sands), believes there has been a problem with the modelling for the new marina.

"The entrance to the pontoons is just 10 metres wide and that makes the waves worse because they are channelled into a smaller area," she said.

"We will have to see if the new screen works but this is all getting a bit messy."

Joanna Thomson of Goodwin Sands SOS. Picture: Goodwin Sands SOS
Joanna Thomson of Goodwin Sands SOS. Picture: Goodwin Sands SOS

The Port of Dover has applied to the government's Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to put up an outer wave screen within the outer harbour.

It would be steel, 70m long and positioned at the entrance to the new marina.

Dover Harbour Board's consultant for the application, Royal HaskoningDVH, says in a letter to the MMO that it is to "protect the marina from wave energy reflected from the north-eastern corner of the harbour at high water".

The consultant's detailed report for the scheme explains that once that happened port officials found that wave heights within the marina, under storm conditions, lead to "unacceptable movement of the floating pontoons".

To deal with this a 14.4m long inner wave screen was put up in 2020 but it was found this was not enough.

The Western Docks Marina Curve has empty pontoons but those in nearby docks are used, as seen here last April. Picture: Sam Lennon
The Western Docks Marina Curve has empty pontoons but those in nearby docks are used, as seen here last April. Picture: Sam Lennon

The marina is part of the port authority's biggest ever investment, a £250m redevelopment called the Dover Western Docks Revival (DWDR).

A Port of Dover spokesman said: “Despite the challenges we have faced, firstly as a result of business uncertainty related to Brexit, and later with Covid-19, good progress has been made on the new marina.

"This is including the construction of access roads, car parking, a large public area, ablution facilities and particularly addressing the swell situation that was shown to occur very occasionally during specific weather conditions.

"We constructed the inner wave wall as a first step, which delivered significant improvement.

"The Port of Dover has consulted with the community throughout the whole Western Docks Revival project, including our berth holders, the statutory Port and Community Forum (PCF) and more widely with organisations such as the RYA (Royal Yachting Association), from which there has been positive dialogue.

"The matter of swell has been well publicised and shared with these stakeholders.

"We are delighted that there is still great enthusiasm for the move to the new Marina.

"We are equally excited that planning permission has recently been granted for the Marina Curve development, meaning those to be based at the new Marina will be able to enjoy new bars, cafés and restaurants at the waterfront in the years ahead.

"We continue to work towards a successful transition to the new Marina.”

A double planning application for a 90-room motel and a restaurant, bar and swimming pool was granted for another part of the DWDR by the Dover District Council planning committee last month.

Edward Biggs, Dover district ward councillor for Town and Castle. Picture from Cllr Edward Biggs (54215464)
Edward Biggs, Dover district ward councillor for Town and Castle. Picture from Cllr Edward Biggs (54215464)

Goodwin Sands SOS previously clashed with the Port of Dover because it wanted to dredge some of the shifting sands off Deal for the DWDR.

The protesters said that would disturb war graves but they lost the battle when the MMO ruled in the port authority's favour in 2018.

Anyone wanting to make an objection or representation about the wave barrier application should email harbourorders@marinemanagement.org.uk or write to: Harbour Orders Team, Marine Management Organisation, Lancaster House, Hampshire Court, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE4 7YH.

Those writing in need to quote the reference HRO/2021/00006.

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