Wednesday 26 June 2013

Penzance Harbour Impasse Broken

Improvements to the quays at each end of the IOS sea link are linked together in project terms leading to the fear that the long running impasse over Penzance works might prevent works on St Mary’s going ahead.  The impasse has however now broken.  The new Penzance Town Council (40% new faces) convened a special meeting on Monday 17th June and agreed by a large majority to support limited rock armour of South Pier if deemed essential. The decision does not mean that the Minister will fund this element of the work (estimated to cost between £1.5 - £2.5 million) but if he does not it will not be in response to a lobby against it by Penzance Town Council.

The Minister had written to the Town Council in the autumn of 2012 seeking the Council’s views on rock armour but with little information available the Council decided to postpone taking a position on the matter.  In response, Cornwall Council commissioned a survey of the Pier’s structure and sought advice on the overtopping issue from Royal HaskoningDHV.  The report (5MB) can be downloaded below.

Penzance Town Councillor (and FRIST supporter) Dick Cliffe successfully proposed that the Town Council hold the special meeting with opportunities for public speaking and with Cornwall Council represented to answer questions about their proposals.   In the event only Charlie Cartwright (ex IOSSCO Chief Exec) spoke during public speaking and he spoke in favour of rock armour defence of South Pier.    Bert Biscoe, Cabinet Member for Transport, supported by Tim Wood (Asst Head of Transport) attended from Cornwall Council.  There was public interest in the meeting and the issue was carefully discussed by Councillors with Cornwall Council questioned on various points.   The result was a convincing majority in favour (~ 13 for and 2 against).

View the Penzance Town Council resolution here.
View the Royal HaskoningDHV Report here.  


The successful resolution emerged from informal discussions between Town Councillors and local Cornwall Councillors, and between Cornwall Council (Transport) and a deputation from Penzance led by the Mayor. 

The urgency behind the current projects is the expiry of the current 7 year ERDF programme in December 2013.  Any contract to be part funded by ERDF needs to be let before December 2013 and completed in little over 12 months.  This tight timescale has prevented many of the Town Council's harbour proposals being taken forward as there was insufficient time to work them up, gain legal agreements with displaced businesses and obtain the necessary permissions..

The Penzance Harbour Revision Order allows full rock armour to be placed on the outer 2/3 of South Pier.  This work was estimated to cost £6.0 M and was necessary because the Route Partnership scheme included a new longer vessel that was due to operate all year around.  With no winter ferry planned and a severely restricted budget it was difficult to justify the case for full rock armour.  The Royal HaskoningDHV report proposed limited rock armour at key points to deal with the day to day operational overtopping issue and to reduce wear and tear on vulnerable points in the Pier’s structure.

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