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News - 05/01/15

CHC news – March 2010

Despite the seemingly endless inclement weather we’ve been suffering, Spring has sprung and here at Cowes Harbour Commission and all around Cowes Harbour we are gearing up for another busy season ahead. 

Welcome to the latest issue of our E-Newsletter. Despite the seemingly endless inclement weather we’ve been suffering, Spring has sprung and here at Cowes Harbour Commission and all around Cowes Harbour we are gearing up for another busy season ahead. 

Storm damage supports need for breakwater
The Harbour Master, Capt. Stuart McIntosh, reported at the February Harbour Commissioners’ meeting that considerable damage had been sustained to the harbour infrastructure and pontoons as a result of a series of northerly storms and gales suffered between late December and mid February. He informed the Commissioners that this damage had included the heavy-duty breakwater style pontoons of Venture Quay (by the Union Jack building) that had totally failed owing to the adverse sea conditions. He went on to report that the pontoons have been taken ashore and SEEDA as the owners of the pontoons are unlikely to re-instate this facility for 2010.

Good progress made on Outer Harbour Project consents
On a positive note, good progress has been made on obtaining the necessary consents for the important Outer Harbour Project. Following extensive consultation with Natural England, the government’s conservation advisors have informed the regulators that they are now happy to remove their initial objection to the scheme. In addition, the Environment Agency has also confirmed that, subject to complying with a number of conditions, they are also able to remove their objection on the flood risk issues and their concerns on nature conservation grounds have also been satisfied.

These important milestones will now hopefully allow the regulators to move forward and determine the applications in the knowledge that the conservation, environmental and flood risk issues have been properly addressed.

The current timeline is anticipated as follows:

Spring 2010 – secure necessary consents
Summer 2010 – identify preferred developer/operator
Autumn 2010 – Spring 2011 – conclude Development Agreement and other legal agreements and detailed design
Spring 2011 – commence construction
Spring 2012 – Phase 1 marina in operation


Advisory Committee seeks clarification on County Press letter from Red Funnel’s, M.D.
As many recipients of our E-Newsletter will be aware, there was recently a very prominent article published in the IOW County Press written by James Fulford, the CEO of Red Funnel Ltd. In a nutshell, it was concerned with opening up a public debate about the future growth – or not – of ferry links to the Island which its author suggests needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency and as a fundamental part of the Isle of Wight Council’s (IOWC) forward planning process.

As far as CHC’s Advisory Committee is concerned, it is accepted that Red Funnel has the right to ask the IOWC what their long-term plans are, in particular for East Cowes. The Harbour Master and the Advisory Committee fully supports the ferry company in this. Indeed, Capt. McIntosh, in his capacity as Chief Executive Officer of CHC, confirmed that the Commission had written to the IOWC in the past about the need for an IOW Strategic Plan that addressed the Island’s position on future ferry growth and related planning issues.

James Fulford wrote to Capt. McIntosh with a copy of the article’s text immediately prior to its publication. Capt. McIntosh was concerned at the inference in the letter that the Outer Harbour Project (OHP) would restrict Red Funnel’s ability to bring in larger/deeper draught or more frequent vessels. Capt. McIntosh informed the Advisory Committee at their meeting in late January, that this was not correct and that CHC had already discussed the possibility of future dredging of the main fairway and the possibility of a second linkspan with Red Funnel Group (RFG). Nothing within the OHP plans would compromise the potential to deepen the channel, bring in larger ferries or add an additional berth. In fact the navigational improvements brought about by the OHP would benefit such proposals.

CHC Commissioner Claudia Suckling questioned Mark Thompson who sits on CHC’s Advisory Committee as RFG’s Marine Operations Manager. She asked that if you put aside the RFG position on the contribution to any funding of the harbour infrastructure, would the OHP have a detrimental impact on the current or future operation of RFG? Mark Thompson stated his personal view was that the OHP would not have any negative impact on current or future operations.

Hopefully the outcome of this will be a healthy debate with the major stakeholders working together to agree the way forward on a long-term, robust strategic plan but one that does not impact on the delivery of the Outer Harbour Plan which is now at an important stage, with SEEDA in detailed negotiations with three short listed ‘blue chip’ marina/developers operators.


Meeting The Standard
Investors in People is a flexible and easy to use standard that helps organisations transform their business performance. At the heart of Investors in People is The Standard that delivers real business benefits. It has 39 outcome-based evidence requirements that go into making up the ‘plan’, ‘do’, ‘review’ cycle. This allows a business such as Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) to build up a complete picture of how the business is managing its people and where it can make improvements. CHC had to meet these 39 evidence requirements in order to be recognised as an Investor in People and to be able to display the laurel logo and plaque.

CHC’s three-yearly review took place in late January coinciding with the implementation of the new management re-structuring programme. We are delighted to report positive feedback from both our staff and from Investors in People having met our standard and retained our recognition.

Business & Operational objectives
The CHC Strategic Framework is a public document that is available to download from the CHC website at http://www.cowesharbourcommission.co.uk and hard copies can be supplied on request to the Harbour Master by stakeholder organisations and businesses. The Strategic Framework Vision is looking forward to 2015 and the document is designed to detail the Commission’s fundamental principles and policies that forms the basis and guide for all the Commission’s decisions.

The 2010 objectives have been drawn up and the CHC Board has agreed to seek the input of the CHC Advisory Committee members prior to ratification in June 2010.There are a number of objectives listed under the following headings: Governance, Safety and Security, Conservation & Environment, Harbour Development, Finance & Investment, Commercial Services & Asset Management, Personnel & Training and Communications & Marketing.


New pontoon parking facility
Cowes is a favourite destination for many south coast yachtsmen and in particular the large number of sail training organisations visiting from Poole, Hamble, Portsmouth and further afield. Cowes is also the base for some of the largest training organisations in the UK, such as the UKSA and it is often difficult for sea schools to find pontoon space to conduct essential training. Cruising yachtsmen in adjacent berths rarely welcome such activity and regrettably damage to other craft does sometimes occur. Cowes Harbour Commission has now taken positive steps to ensure that all yachtsmen have somewhere to acquire these essential skills, and that inconvenience and disruption to other river users is minimised.

A new pontoon training facility is to be commissioned on the River Medina on Friday, 26 March 2010 by the Royal Yachting Association’s Training Manager, James Stevens.

Cowes Harbour Commission, with support from the UKSA, has provided an 11-metre pontoon in a relatively quiet stretch of river south of Kingston Boatyard. The pontoon is for the use of any river user, but it will be especially welcomed by training organisations wishing to practise or train crews in the essential art of boat handling and safe berthing. This will now be achieved without risk of damage to other craft, and without competing for mooring space during the busy summer months. The provision of such a facility is unique and has been much welcomed by the river users.


Don’t forget that Cowes Harbour Commission is always happy to gain feedback on its services and on the issues it is tackling on your behalf. If you want to talk to the Harbour Master, Capt. Stuart McIntosh or Rod Hodgson, the Deputy HM, please feel free to call in to the newly refurbished Harbour Office on Town Quay, or phone and make an appointment on Tel: 01983 293 952, or email chc@cowes.co.uk.