Your Brexit questions answered, 2 Oct

Howard Pridding (RYA Director of External Affairs) and Stuart Carruthers (RYA Cruising Manager) will give an online presentation from 7.30 pm on Friday 2 October, with opportunity for questions. Registration is required and attendance is free. We hope it will help to clarify things for boaters about 2021 and beyond.  Register at www.ryabrexitforum2020.eventbrite.co.uk

The online forum is in lieu of a face to face forum, which is now not possible following the latest government stipulations about meeting only in groups of 6. The forum is specifically being offered for boaters in the RYA London and SE region, but will be opened up to others if numbers permit. There is a limit of about 250.

Medway and Swale Heritage Harbours update

A joint initiative by the Maritime Heritage Trust (MHT) and National Historic Ships (NHS) Shipshape Network, with strong support from European Maritime Heritage (EMH), proposes that historic ports and harbours in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland become officially recognised as ‘Heritage Harbours’. The developing Heritage Harbours recognise the great value in sensitively developing their, often superb, historic buildings; waste land; mooring; and maintenance facilities for both local and visiting historic vessels and are identified within the NHS Shipshape Network regions.

MEDWAY HH1 – The proposal to designate Medway as the first British heritage harbour was presented to a meeting, of the local maritime heritage community and associated stakeholders at the Sun Pier House tea rooms on 10 December 2018. The meeting, at Sun Pier House, Chatham, was well attended by some forty enthusiastic representatives from the local historic vessels; the Medway Council; MHT Trustees; the Thames Sailing Barge community and representatives from Faversham. Medway Council have appointed a senior officer to represent the council on the Medway HH
forum group. We are in discussions with the directors of Sail Training International, with a view to Medway being a Tall Ships race port in 2025. This will be the main agenda item at the next Medway Heritage group meeting. The ‘Boat Shed’ and other historic buildings and wharves, which form part of the historic Sheerness naval dockyard, may lead to Sheerness becoming an integral part of Medway Heritage Harbour.

FAVERSHAM & OARE HH2 – Faversham & Oare Creeks Heritage (FOHHG)
have met regularly since early 2019 at Faversham Guildhall. Aims and objectives have been developed and considerable work in optimising balanced development and improvement of the creeks has already been carried out by group members. An exciting feature is that Kent County Council has continued the design work for the replacement Faversham upper creek bridge through the lockdown.

Royal Naval Sailing Association to be evicted from Chatham

RNSA members at the historic slipway. Photo Kent Online.

Despite the Royal Navy’s proud 400-year association with Chatham, the RNSA has been given its marching orders from its modest base at the Historic Dockyard to make way for yet another housing development. The Sea Cadets and Sea Scouts who share the slipway and shore facilities will also have to go.

Read more of this shocking story at Kent Online…

Kelly Tolhurst is new Maritime Minister

Kelly Tolhurst MP.

As part of the Cabinet reshuffle, the Prime Minister has appointed Kelly Tolhurst MP, a marine surveyor by trade, as the new Maritime Minister. Kelly is also the MP for Rochester and Strood. She is also Patron of the MSBA, having been a long standing committee member.

Kelly became a councillor for Medway Council in 2011 and worked to get a River Medway strategy in place to encourage economic development and improve leisure use to replace declining commercial activity. One success was the restoration of Sun Pier, which now provides boat access to Chatham, below Rochester Bridge. Kelly is a marine surveyor and a keen Dragon racing sailor on the Medway, when time permits.

British Marine’s press release notes Kelly’s concerns about the MMO’s burdensome procedures for dredging of moorings on the Medway and effects on the leisure marine sector. With Mark Garnier MP she has set up an All-Parliamentary Party Group (APPG) for marine leisure

GridLink cable will pass through Medway Estuary

Route of GridLink high voltage cable.

GridLink Interconnector Limited (GridLink) is proposing to develop a high voltage direct current interconnector linking the British and French electricity grids. The GridLink project will consist of two converter stations, one close to the existing National Grid 400kv substation at Kingsnorth and one near Dunkerque. The converter stations will be connected by underground cables (onshore) and subsea cables (offshore).

Intertek has been appointed by GridLink as Marine Consultants to support the development of the project. GridLink is intending to submit an application for a Marine Licence (to the Marine Management Organisation) for the construction, operation and maintenance of a new electricity interconnector under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, in May 2020. In support of the Marine Licence application, GridLink will provide environmental information and an assessment of potential environmental effects. For example, the application will demonstrate that due consideration has been given to navigational safety, the historic environment, effects on nature conservation sites (e.g. marine protected areas) and effects on other marine stakeholders (e.g. recreation and fishing). [Webmaster’s emphasis]

Intertek is currently preparing an Environmental Report to support the Marine Licence application. This will provide a baseline for each environmental topic; describe the likely effects of the proposed development on each topic, including identifying those that are potentially significant; and if necessary outline project-specific mitigation to be followed to avoid or negate adverse effects.

Stakeholders and the public will have the opportunity to review and comment on the Marine Licence application through a consultation exercise once the application is submitted. However, Intertek would like to ensure that the application documents address any concerns that stakeholders have prior to this consultation process.

Further information on the GridLink project can be found here. Intertek would welcome any questions and/or concerns regarding the project for consideration in the preparation of the Environmental Report, particularly from clubs or organisations close to the proposed route. From experience in the Thames Estuary, the MSBA is concerned that the works may require exclusion zones that may block access in or out of Stangate Creek for instance, affecting several clubs. The information supplied does not give reassurance on this point.

Comments can be provided by letter or email to the following address:
Anna Farley, Intertek, Exchange House Liphook, Hampshire, GU30 7DW
Email: Anna.Farley@intertek.com
Tel: 01428 727800

Chatham Docks to close in 2025

As long suspected, Peel Land & Property have revealed that Chatham Docks will close in 2025 for redevelopment into housing, retail, tourism and leisure. Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst has expressed concern at the potential loss of up to 800 jobs at the docks that have been the centre of Chatham’s economic activity for hundreds of years. Peel have not yet responded to the MP’s request for a meeting.  The privately-owned Peel Group makes no secret that their business is primarily about highly profitable property development at the many old docks and harbours that they have acquired. Dave Harris of Medway Council is reported to have said, “It is a landowner’s decision as to whether existing use of a site continues and the local authority has no control over this.”

Gridlink project begins at Kingsnorth

Photo by Wil Pretty.

If you’ve seen the big yellow jack-up rig in the Medway at Kingsnorth you may have wondered what’s going on. The rig is for probing the river bed prior to laying of a massive electrical cable. The GridLink Interconnector Project is a 1,400 MW high voltage electricity cable that will provide a link between the national grids of the UK and France.

The cable connects the National Grid 400 kV sub-station at Kingsnorth to the RTE 400 kV sub-station near Dunkerque, France. The converter stations change the high voltage direct current to alternating current and adjust the voltage to 400 kV for the connection to the sub -stations. The cable route passes through the Medway Estuary and Thames Estuary, before turning south-east to cross the southern North Sea to the French coast.

Chatham Interface Land Proposal – please respond before 22 Dec

Please add your response to the Chatham Interface Land proposal using this questionnaire. Please share it on social media too.

PLEASE NOTE: For your views to count, you must send your response, ideally using the questionnaire, to Medway Council. Email planning.policy@medway.gov.uk

The Council say they want to retain the Dockyard slip, but will it just end up boxed in with inadequate parking and facilities like Gillingham Pier slipway?

There are two parcels of land involved in this planning proposal, which covers part of the Chatham Historic Dockyard. Let’s keep the housing on the landward part. The riverside part is not huge and is the only green space next to the river with access to the water, with far greater amenity value to the community. Lying between a busy shopping centre and a world class visitor attraction, it would not be an attractive place to live. The area gets very busy in the summer when events are on; traffic and parking will always be a problem. Having a residents’ parking scheme would create the problems that can be now seen at Gillingham Pier where overflow shoppers vie for parking spaces with residents and anyone wanting to use the Pier. Or will the Dockyard slip be abandoned and left unusable like Commodore’s Hard?

Please suggest in your response how the slipway and its surroundings should be used. How about a first class public slipway with a community clubhouse? Maybe nautical themed bars and restaurants nearby should be welcomed if they are not too close and the a pontoon would encourage boats to visit, thus boosting the local economy.

MSBA member clubs, the Royal Navy Sailing Association and the Royal Engineer Yacht Club are based at the Historic Dockyard where they use the slipway to access their moorings. Let’s support them by expressing our concerns to the Proposal:

 

Oyster trestles obstruct navigation at Whitstable

Following a complaint by Whitstable Yacht Club, a report published on the Marine Management Organisation’s website acknowledges that the presence of oyster trestles causes or is likely to cause obstruction or danger to navigation, whilst concluding that the farm’s operations are nevertheless acceptable as a low risk to marine navigation.

In response, the RYA has formally written to the Director of Marine Licensing at the MMO setting out their concerns with the report and arguing that the measures put in place since the investigation started do not negate the need for a marine licence. The RYA considers that these trestles require a full marine licence on the basis that they could cause obstruction or danger to navigation.

Read more on RYA website…