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New berth at Port of Ramsgate approved, sparking anger in Thanet District Council chamber

There were cries of "farce" from the public as a controversial scheme to replace a berth at the Port of Ramsgate was approved.

Berth 4/5 had helped ships transfer aggregate to shore since 1998 but was decommissioned in 2020 as the council claimed it had reached the end of its life.

The Port of Ramsgate and the town's harbour
The Port of Ramsgate and the town's harbour

Despite being used solely by Brett Aggregates, Thanet District Council said it was contractually obligated to build a new one.

Since the first cost estimations were made in 2020, the price of the project has sky-rocketed from £1.5 million to £2.3 million.

Objectors also said the council were obligated to build a similar berth - but the new construct will be nearly double in length, from 70m to 119m.

In an emotionally charged meeting on Wednesday evening, some councillors claimed it was a waste of public money and that Brett Aggregates didn’t need such a large berth.

Cllr Rebecca Wing (Green) gave a 10-minute speech on her concerns over the project, including potential flooding.

Drawing of the new berth. Picture: Thanet District Council
Drawing of the new berth. Picture: Thanet District Council

“In 2030, part of the port, according to Kent County Council, will be underwater," she said.

“I know I’ve been told part of the pontoon floats, but the port doesn’t float.

“We have images of high tides of water already encroaching onto the sand and aggregate piles that Brett have there.

“So I have real concerns we are going to spend a significant amount of money on a project that is going to be out-dated pretty quickly, or shall we say overwhelmed with water.”

Despite these claims, planning officers said that environmental issues had been considered.

Green Party councillor Becky Wing
Green Party councillor Becky Wing

They said the cost of the project wasn’t a reason to reject it at the planning stage, as the concept had already been approved by the council’s cabinet.

While some members held strong opinions on the berth, others were more conciliatory.

Cllr Rick Everitt (Lab) said: “I think it’s interesting the positioning of the main two political parties in the council (Conservatives and Labour) has been in total accordance with this.

“The reason for that is because there’s a contractual commitment to provide this berth.

“I don’t think anyone here has great enthusiasm for spending council money on a new berth to import aggregate, but nonetheless that’s where we are.”

In a final vote the project was approved with six in favour, three against and four abstentions.

However after approval was given, a member of the public started heckling councillors shouting: “Farce!”. The meeting had to be adjourned for five minutes.

After the decision had been made, Cllr Wing added: “I just hope everyone who voted in favour has read the environmental statement."

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