New Ferries River Trials Information Update to Stakeholders No 1

Posted on 22 Nov 2008

Much work has now been completed over the last two months and most measured data is now with the BMT Seatech risk assessment team for detailed analysis. A final trial with dinghies will be held on Wednesday 19 November if the wind is suitable.

We have not yet completed the trials with two W class vessels passing on their transits. This requires a wind of F5/6 from the SW and a full range of tides from HW, Mid tide and LW springs.

This work is essential if BMT are to be able to complete their analysis in accordance with their terms of reference and produce a draft report by Mid December as expected.

Areas of Concern

The results to date have indicated some areas of concern with regard to the potential effect of the ferries on other river users.

In order to address these concerns ahead of the draft report we met with Wightlink last week to discuss them, and to attempt to find ways in which they could be mitigated.

However, we were seriously disappointed by Wightlink’s response both during the meeting and in subsequent correspondence received.

This is because:

1. They now inform us that, contrary to their previous position, they can operate a commercial service without the need to modify the loading arrangements.

2. They have stated that they will not support the trials to their full conclusion in advance of commencing commercial service.

3. They have informed us that, prior to the completion of the risk assessment process they “consider it to be entirely safe for the Wight Class vessels to now enter service, and as stated at the meeting, we will be progressing plans for their introduction in early December”

Harbour Commissioners Action

We considered Wightlink’s response at our Commissioners meeting on Monday afternoon and agreed unanimously the following immediate and urgent actions.

1. To consult with BMT Seatech for them to provide an evidence based interim Safe Operating Profile for the W Class, based on the information that they have gathered to date and the concerns identified. This must of necessity be based on precautionary principals given the incomplete nature of the trials.

2. To consult with the environmental regulators to speed up the provision of their environmental advice.

3. To inform the MCA and the Department for Transport of our concerns regarding Wightlink’s stated plans.

4. To consult with our legal advisors to ensure that we have identified the most effective way in which to enforce an interim safe operating profile.

5. To advise Wightlink of the action that we are taking and ensure that they fully appreciate our determination to regulate for the safety of navigation and protection of the environment, in accordance with our powers and duties under the Port Marine Safety Code.

This is likely to be a fast moving situation and we will keep you informed of any significant developments as appropriate.

Peter Griffiths

Chairman – Lymington Harbour Commission

18th November 2008