New Ferries Stakeholders Update – No. 8

Posted on 14 Jan 2010

Safety & Risk Assessment My previous update to stakeholders issued on the 15th May indicated that the operation of the new ferries would be kept under review following publication of the Phase 2 risk assessment report by our marine risk consultants (BMT). In particular, at a meeting with stakeholders on the 3rd April to discuss the report, it was recognised that during the risk assessment trials it had not been possible to observe the ferries when river traffic was at its busiest, i.e. at the height of the summer. In view of this, LHC commissioned BMT to undertake a review of ferry operations at the end of the 2009 season. To inform their review, BMT spent a number of key dates on the water observing the ferry operation and interaction with leisure users when the river was busy, as well as undertaking an analysis of incidents during the season. Their report was published on the 19th November following a further meeting with stakeholders. In summary they concluded “that the W-Class ferries and the leisure users  were co-existing well and, although there were some areas  which could be improved, the conclusions and recommendations of their earlier report still stand.”  They also concluded that “The historically low levels of marine risk on the river have not, in the opinion of the BMT team, been eroded by the introduction of the W-class ferries.”  Their report made a number of further recommendations which LHC will be progressing. As with all activities on the river, risk management of the new ferries will continue to be subject to formal review. Not withstanding the above, stakeholders remained concerned about some aspects of the ferry operation, principally the impact of poor punctuality and an unpredictable timetable on dinghy racing activities, wind shadow and thruster wash on the approach to the berth. This latter item is being further addressed with Wightlink.

Environment There continues to be concern about the introduction of the new ‘W’ Class ferries and their potential effect on the protected local environment. Over the summer and autumn period, Wightlink’s environmental consultant has been undertaking monitoring in the river to a methodology agreed with Natural England to identify if there have been any significant short term effects. It is currently understood that no significant short term effects have been identified. Long term impacts will be monitored through a Bathymetric survey programme. At the time of writing it is understood that Wightlink have submitted a mitigation proposal for a habitat replenishment scheme to Natural England following discussion with Natural England, regulators and a number of other interested parties. There also remains considerable uncertainty on whether due process has been followed under the Habitats Regulations. This is the subject of a Judicial Review which has been brought by some local residents. The outcome is anticipated early in the New Year.
Peter Griffiths Chairman – LHC 16th December 2009