SPS Press Release Wightlink Ferry Operation

Posted on 24 Nov 2008

In the light of the decision by Wightlink to operate the new W class ferries in early December, the response by Lymington Harbour Commission (LHC) and the Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons on 19th November, Solent Protection Society (SPS) has reviewed its position.

SPS regrets the acceleration of the introduction of the new ferries, but in the circumstances supports the development of a stringent interim operating profile by LHC.

SPS acknowledges the need for a safe ferry service, carrying passengers and vehicles between the mainland and West Wight, recognising the economic and social issues.    We are very conscious of the serious concerns of Island residents who rely on regular and frequent service.   We hope that decisions by regulators will continue to be made on the basis of sound, evidence based, scientific approach, without recourse to hypothetical consequences, and that the ferry operation, even if it starts before trials are completed, can be satisfactorily managed.

In order to maintain the scientifically based decision making process, SPS considers that the work being undertaken to deliver advice for an appropriate assessment must be completed irrespective of the status of the current application. This information will be required by LHC to determine whether additional management activity is needed in order to avoid adverse impacts on the river and the adjacent European Marine Site by the ferry operations.

SPS supports the LHC’s proposed actions and consider them to be reasonable, appropriate and proportionate.   Their statement reads as follows: –

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.

The Solent Protection Society would urge all involved to continue to work diligently to secure a resolution of the outstanding issues in a timely manner and would be extremely disappointed, and concerned, if these issues were not rapidly resolved.

Supporting documentation is available on this website in the Articles section:-

LHC Reply 12.11.08 http://comlay.uk/articles/86 River Trials Information Update 2  – 20.11.08 http://comlay.uk/articles/87 River Trials Information Update 1 – 18.11.08 http://comlay.uk/articles/88

<strong>Media Contact:</strong> Susan Preston Davis – MPR Tel: 01489 789111 Email: <a href=”mailto:publicrelations@solentprotection.org” data-mce-href=”mailto:publicrelations@solentprotection.org”>publicrelations@solentprotection.org</a>