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Wightlink provides the main link between the Isle of Wight and the mainland. We endeavour to provide Island residents and visitors with an easy and frequent service. Every year we carry over 5 million passengers and 65% of the Island’s freight to and from the IOW. 1.2 million of our passengers travel on our route between Lymington and Yarmouth. 

Application for Judicial Review of 2011 Planning Enquiry Rejected

Wightlink has today welcomed the decision again to refuse the Lymington River Association a Judicial Review of the Secretary of State’s decision not to overturn the outcome of the 2011 Planning Inquiry (the 2011 Inquiry gave consent for Wightlink to carry out berth works, operate the W-Class vessels and undertake habitat creation works).

CEO Russell Kew said “I hope that this now marks the end of a 4 year legal process which has created uncertainty for our staff, customers and Islanders and which has cost Wightlink more than £3.4m in legal costs and fees alone.

Our berth works are now complete, providing safe and efficient loading for our customers; our W-class ships are operating reliably and with reduced environmental impact whilst maintaining the capacity our customers need; and the habitat creation works in Boiler Marsh are going very well under the close supervision of a robust and independent Environmental Management Panel.  I would invite any interested parties to review the report and minutes which we make available on our website.

Wightlink is committed to coexisting with others in its use of the river and I would urge the Lymington River Association to do the same going forward.”

Updated 7 August 2013

Berth Works update

Wightlink are pleased to announce that the berth modification works at Lymington terminal have been completed ahead of schedule and we are now operating off the new linkspan.

The operation is currently being monitored over the course of this week and staff are also familiarising themselves with the new design and layout, so please bear with us and any minor disruption to service that you may experience, we will of course do everything we can to minimise any inconvenience.

The passenger walkway is slightly behind schedule and is expected to be in operation w/c 9 April, further details will follow towards the end of this week.

Updated 29 March

Berth Works update

As you are aware the berth modification works at Lymington terminal are well under way and we are anticipating that the works will be finished slightly ahead of the scheduled completion date of 29 March, however, we are undergoing ‘berth fit trials’ towards the end of this week, so we will know more details once these have been undertaken.  The passenger walkway has been slightly delayed and we are expecting this to be operational week commencing 2 April.

LymingtonOnce we start to operate off of the new berth, you may experience minor disruption to service whilst the staff familarise themselves with the new design and layout, we will of course do everything we can to minimise this disruption and we ask that you bear with us whilst we go through this process.

LymingtonIn conjunction with the berth modification works we have been progressing the habitat protection and recharge scheme to help preserve the Lymington Estuary’s salt marshes, as per the terms of the Section 106 agreement.  This has involved pumping dredged silt from Lymington’s marinas onto Boiler Marsh to recharge its eroded section.  These works are ongoing and have to be completed by 15 March to avoid harm to both migrating fish and nesting birds and to enable use of a proportion of the sediment dredged from the marinas at that time of year.  

LymingtonThe works got underway in February after a month of preparation during which Land & Water Services mobilised their barges and equipment, delivered supplies to Boiler Marsh and constructed brushwood and straw bale retaining structures.  They also had to lay a pipeline and site the stud barge used to pump dredged silt onto the marsh.

Should you have any queries or questions regarding this work, then please do not hesitate to contact feedback@wightlink.co.uk

Updated 12 March 2012

Berth Works

The berth modification works were intended to be undertaken whilst the C Class vessels were in service as these vessels had years of experience loading/unloading off the slipways.  Regrettably due to the planning and environmental issues surrounding the berth works, this was unable to be completed whilst the C Class remained available.

To ensure that a service could operate in the event of unforeseen temporary linkspan failures, at Lymington, Fishbourne or Yarmouth a barge was constructed to enable vehicles to load/unload onto the slipway.  

This barge is now being used at Lymington whilst the main berth modification works are undertaken (a period of 3 months) and the timetable has been amended to reflect the longer operating times (an hourly timetable) that we require for loading and unloading in Lymington as the operation is more complex than operating off the linkspan.  

We are aware that there are issues around low tide with the loading and unloading of vehicles and despite making major modifications to correct the identified issues to enable low tide operation we are still experiencing problems at a very specific state of the tide (1.1m), resulting in passengers being unable to embark/disembark during this time frame, which has lead to delays.  We ask that passengers bear with us whilst these essential works are taking place and we apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause.  

Important Customer Notices

Please be advised that the sailing times on the Lymington-Yarmouth route will be revised between 4 January – 29 March 2012 due to the Lymington berth improvement and habitat works that are required to be undertaken in connection with the operation of the W Class ferries.

In addition to the revised timetable a bus replacement service will also be operating between Lymington Pier and Lymington Town.

Please be advised that during the 3 month period of the berth works at Lymington (until 29 March 2012), passengers with low sports cars and low loaders freight vehicles are advised that due to the temporary berth/ramp at Lymington that this route maybe unsuitable for these vehicles at certain states of the tides. Where possible we would recommend that the Portsmouth-Fishbourne route is used as an alternative service.

Please ensure that you pick up a new 2012 timetable from the ticket office or download a copy here.

19 December 2011, updated 11 January 2012


Wightlink announces the process and result of its Appropriate Assessment (AA) regarding its “Project” and its subsequent resolution to implement Shore and Habitat Recharge Works.

1. On 29th November 2011, Wightlink received planning consent to undertake Shore Works at the site of its Lymington berth and Habitat Recharge Works on Boiler Marsh and on 2nd December 2011 Wightlink received the necessary marine licences from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).   Together with the operation of the ‘W’ class ferries, these Works comprise the “Project” Wightlink wishes to undertake

2. Following issue of the consents, on 7th December 2011, the Wightlink board met in its role as competent authority to undertake its Appropriate Assessment (AA) of whether its “Project” would have an adverse effect on the integrity of the European Sites, either alone or in combination with other plans and projects in accordance with the agreed methodology published in May 2010

3. In making its assessment, the Wightlink board considered the technical advice in its 2010 Environmental Statement and technical study to inform the AA; the AAs of the Planning Inspector and the MMO; the decision of the Inspector in respect of Wightlink’s planning appeals; the key correspondence between Wightlink’s advisors and Natural England; the advice of Natural England; the views of objectors to the “Project”; representations made regarding the planning and marine licence applications; conditions contained in the MMO’s marine licences and planning permissions; Wightlink’s obligations under the section 106 agreement dated 21 October 2011; and EU guidance regarding the Habitats Directive and Habitats Regulations. Wightlink has completed its AA in accordance with its legal duties as a competent authority including the need to set aside commercial considerations when completing the AA

4.  Having undertaken the AA Wightlink has concluded that its “Project” would not have an adverse effect on the European Sites

5. It also concluded, taking into account advice from Natural England, the views of objectors and the decisions and AAs of the other competent authorities, that the “Project” will not damage the interest features of the Hurst Castle and Lymington River Estuary SSSI and the Lymington River SSSI

6. As statutory Harbour Authority for Lymington Pier, taking into account its duties under s48A of the Harbours Act 1964, the Wightlink board satisfied itself that, in addition, the “Project” will neither have an adverse effect on natural features of special interest nor adversely impact the National Park, Conservation Area and Green Belt within which the Shore and Habitat Works are located

7. The relevant detailed minute of the meeting can be downloaded here 

Planning Inspector's Decision and Next Steps

Wightlink is delighted that the Inspector has granted planning permission for the Lymington berth improvement and habitat works we wish to undertake in connection with the operation of the W Class ferries.

In October 2010, prior to applying to New Forest District Council and the New Forest National Park Authority for planning permission for the works, Wightlink published, in our role as one of the competent authorities involved in the matter, our provisional Appropriate Assessment (AA) of the likely effects of our proposed works and the operation of the W Class ferries on the integrity of the protected sites adjacent to the ferries’ route.

Wightlink undertook then to consider the AAs of the other competent authorities before making our own final AA as part of our decision whether to proceed with the works. Planning permissions have now been granted and the AA undertaken by the Inspector has concluded that the operation of the project (the works Wightlink has applied to undertake and the operation of the W Class ferries) will not adversely affect the integrity of the protected sites.

However, the Marine Management Organisation has still to complete its AA and issue the necessary licences.  Thus Wightlink’s board remains unable to complete its own final AA and resolve whether or not to implement the works.  Time to accomplish this is now very short. If Wightlink resolve to proceed to implement the works contractors would need to be commissioned in sufficient time to enable the berth works to start in December 2011.  The habitat works need to be undertaken in February and March 2012 for reasons of wildlife protection and to comply with Natural England’s advice.

To undertake the works, the legal and associated costs are in excess of £3.5m to secure these permissions.

We are pleased to note that the Inspector has agreed that a maximum of 18,000 trips per year is appropriate and acceptable in accordance with the terms of the planning agreement in respect of the project.   We will therefore not have to reduce the early morning and late night sailings as we previously announced if restricted to 16,500 trips per year and the need for job losses through redundancy has been removed.

29 November 2011

Lymington to Yarmouth update

In order to maintain a ferry service between Lymington and Yarmouth and undertake widely publicised necessary berth works and habitat works, Wightlink must secure consent for the marine licences and planning permissions applied for. A section 106 agreement which places obligations on Wightlink for the delivery of the habitat works and the operation of the ferries is to be entered into with the New Forest National Park Authority and New Forest District Council.  The agreement has to be approved by Natural England and is required by UK and EU habitat legislation.

Natural England has sought to reduce the number of trips that the ferries may make in any one year to a maximum 16,500 and has made that a condition in the 106 agreement.  Wightlink has made the case for 18000 trips each year to maintain current service frequency.  Wightlink will reluctantly accept Natural England’s requirement if it is endorsed by the Planning Inspector.  A significant reduction in trippage will lead to a reduction in required manpower.

5 October 2011

Latest Downloads

 

The Secretary of State has declined requests from New Forest District Council (NFDC) and New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA) that he should determine Wightlink’s applications for berth and habitat works.

Wightlink’s proposed berthworks in Lymington together with recharge and habitat creation works proposed at Boiler Marsh and the operation of the W Class ferries form a single project which Wightlink has proposed to undertake. It is the effects of this project on the European Sites which must be subject to appropriate assessment under Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive and Regulation 61 of the Habitats Regulations.

Natural England are required to provide their advice in respect of the project before that assessment can be completed and the applications needed for the project can be determined.  Wightlink can only complete its appropriate assessment of the project once it has received Natural England’s advice and the consents it requires for the project.

Wightlink submitted the applications needed for the project on 5th November 2010 with a view to obtaining consents for the single project and completing its appropriate assessment of the project to enable commencing the shore and habitat works in Spring 2011. The application for habitat creation and recharge works at Boiler Marsh was made to the NFNPA and the application for berthworks in Lymington was made to NFDC.  At the same time Wightlink submitted applications for the marine licenses it needs for the project.  Those licence applications will be determined by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

Wightlink made the decision in April this year to lodge appeals against the non-determination of the two planning applications.  At the same time, on 28th April, it submitted duplicate applications to the planning authorities for determination. For reasons of wildlife protection, the works can only be undertaken in February and March and only by appealing against non-determination and submitting duplicate appeals could Wightlink hope to do the work in Spring 2012. The Planning Inspectorate has registered Wightlink’s appeals and a public inquiry will start on 11 October 2011.

As recently announced, Wightlink is pleased that Natural England (NE) has now advised the competent authorities that Wightlink’s project will have no adverse effect on the integrity of the European sites adjacent to the Lymington/Yarmouth ferries’ route and will not damage the Site of Special Scientific Interest (the Lymington River) subject to the clarification of the obligations to be included in the Section 106 agreement that will enable the grant of planning permission by the two authorities and the imposition of conditions on the licence to be issued by the MMO in the light of Natural England’s requirements.  Wightlink has sent a revised Section 106 agreement to Natural England and are awaiting their comments on it.  Wightlink expects to have agreed the s106 requirements with Natural England in the near future.

The NFNPA and NFDC had asked for Wightlink’s duplicate applications to be called-in for determination by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and for the two appeals to be recovered and determined by him.   Wightlink is pleased to note that the Secretary of State has decided that Wightlink’s duplicate applications should be determined at local level and that he will not be recovering Wightlink’s appeals against non-determination.  Wightlink is also pleased to note that Natural England agrees with Wightlink that, subject to prompt agreement regarding the section 106 agreement that addresses Natural England’s remaining concerns, that Wightlink’s duplicate planning applications to NFNPA and NFDC for the habitat and berth works are capable of being determined by the relevant authorities within the time available before the inquiry is programmed to start.

20 July 2011

Natural England’s advice to the Competent Authorities (28.06.11) enables New Forest District Council (NFDC) and New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA) to determine promptly Wightlink’s applications for berth and habitat works.

Wightlink’s proposed berthworks in Lymington together with recharge and habitat creation works proposed at Boiler Marsh and the operation of the “W” Class ferries form a single project which Wightlink has proposed to undertake. It is the effects of this project as a whole on the European Sites as a whole which must be subject to assessment under Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive and Regulation 61 of the Habitats Regulations and in respect of which Natural England’s (NE’s) final advice has been expected.

Wightlink is pleased that Natural England (NE) has now advised the competent authorities that Wightlink’s  project will have no adverse effect on the integrity of the European sites adjacent to the Lymington/Yarmouth ferries’ route and will not damage the Site of Special Scientific Interest (the Lymington River) subject to the clarification of the obligations in the Section 106 agreement and MMO licence conditions in the light of Natural England’s requirements.  Wightlink will discuss these matters with Natural England as soon as possible.

The NFNPA and NFDC have asked for the duplicate applications to be called-in by the Secretary of State for determination . Wightlink is pleased to endorse NE’s view that, subject to prompt agreement regarding the section 106 agreement that addresses NE’s remaining concerns, that Wightlink’s duplicate planning applications to NFNPA and NFDC for the habitat and berth works are fully capable of being determined by the relevant authorities within the time presently allocated, and neither requires call-in by the Secretary of State for determination at a public inquiry.

Wightlink’s applications being considered by NFNPA and NFDC planning committees on 21st & 22nd June 2011

Wightlink made the decision in April this year to lodge appeals against the non determination of two planning applications it submitted on 5th November 2010 for habitat recharge works at Boiler Marsh (New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA)) and berthworks in Lymington (New Forest District Council (NFDC)). At the same time it submitted duplicate applications to the planning authorities for determination. The Planning Inspectorate has registered Wightlink’s appeals and a public inquiry is listed for early October 2011. Wightlink wishes to undertake the works applied for as soon as possible. For reasons of wildlife protection, the works can only be undertaken in February and March.

As part of the appeal process the planning authorities are required to identify their ‘deemed reasons’ for refusal of Wightlink’s 5th November applications (i.e. the decisions the authorities would have made on the application if it were still in front of the authorities for determination). It is only the ‘deemed reasons’ for refusal of the 5th November applications which is before the planning authorities for determination at the planning committees this week, not the duplicate applications.

NFDC and NFNPA planning officers have advised members that the only reason to refuse the applications is on the basis that it cannot be ascertained that the operation of the ‘W’ class ferries will not adversely affect the integrity of the protected sites and in addition, in the case of the shore works application, that the operations will not cause harm to migratory fish. This, the authorities indicate, is the position they must take on the information currently available to it. Natural England’s final advice on the project has not yet been issued.

However, Natural England’s advice is expected imminently and the Environment Agency has confirmed that it is satisfied that the ferries’ propulsion units pose no danger to fish. Following publication of Natural England’s advice and following completion of the statutory consultation period for the duplicate applications, there should be no reason why NFDC and NFNPA are not able to take the applications to committee for determination.

Wightlink has written to the Planning Committee Members regarding the forthcoming meetings on 21st and 22nd June 2011

21 June 2011

Wightlink lodges planning appeal and submits new planning applications regarding its proposed habitat and berth works

The habitat recharge and berth works Wightlink has proposed as part of its project in respect of the ferry service between Lymington and Yarmouth had to be completed during February and March 2011.  This is to avoid harm to both migrating fish and nesting birds and to enable use of a proportion of the sediment dredged from Lymington’s marinas at that time of year.  Delays in obtaining the necessary consents mean that this work could not be completed during 2011.

Consequently, it is Wightlink’s intention to now complete the works in spring 2012 to provide mitigation as soon as possible, against the worst-case risk of ferry-derived adverse effects predicted by Natural England’s (NE’s) advisors.  

NE’s final advice in this case has yet to be issued to the Competent Authorities which, in addition to Wightlink, include the Environment Agency, the Marine Management Organisation, New Forest District Council (NFDC) and New Forest National Parks Authority (NFNPA).  None of the authorities have therefore been able to prepare and publish their appropriate assessments and issue the relevant consents or licences. The target dates for determination of the applications for planning permission have already passed. The shore works application was due to be determined by the 28 February 2011 and the habitat creation works by the 4 March 2011.

Wightlink are now within the six month window from those dates during which an appeal can be lodged.  Planning permission is required at the latest by very early in 2012 for the works to take place in the 2012 spring window.   However, there is no certainty regarding the NE advice and the licensing and planning outcomes that will follow it.  As a competent authority Wightlink has concluded, that it must do everything in its power to prevent further delay to the implementation of the habitat recharge works. If Wightlink does not appeal now, the opportunity to secure consent by spring 2012 through an appeal process, if one is necessary, will be lost because of the time the process is likely to take.

At its board meeting on 26th April, Wightlink therefore resolved to lodge a planning appeal against the non-determination of the existing planning applications and, at the same time, submit duplicate planning applications to NFDC and NFNPA. This will enable them to grant planning permission for the project should they wish to do so while the appeal process continues.  By appealing now Wightlink is allowing sufficient time for the approval process to be concluded if it is required, to enable the habitat works to be completed next spring.  Wightlink met the NFDC, NFNPA and others on the 28th April to explain this precautionary approach to achieving berth works and the commencement of habitat recharge works in spring 2012.

4 May 2011

Downloads

Appeals for non determination of Planning Applications NFDC (10/96387) and NFNPA

Duplicate Planning Applications

Wightlink responds to LRA

This week, Wightlink has replied to the representations made by the Lymington River Association (LRA) on 17th January 2011 to the planning applications for the berth and habitat works that Wightlink has applied for consent to undertake.  We want to ensure that there are no misunderstandings about either our planning applications or the suitability of our new Lymington-based ferries.

The LRA’s comments [here] and Wightlink’s replies are available in detail [here].

We comment as follows.

1. The new ferries are safe. The 2010 independent “Review of ‘W’ Class Ferry Operations and Marine Safety” for the Lymington Harbour Commissioners by BMT Isis concluded that “…the low level of marine risk on the Lymington River had not been compromised by the introduction of the ‘W’ Class ferries”.

2. The new ferries have not generated more freight traffic in the New Forest and Lymington. There has been a 10% decrease in freight carrying via Lymington since the new ferries started in February 2009. 85% of Isle of Wight freight will continue to go from Portsmouth and Southampton where, unlike at Lymington, ports are well served by major mainland road networks.

3. The ferries were designed for the route and river taking full account of the environment in which they work and modern safety regulations.   The new ferries’ better and more flexible design allows freight vehicles and cars to be easily loaded on the same ferry thus reducing the number of crossings required and vehicle waiting times during busy periods.

4. The new ferries have not had any detectable effect on protected sites.  Ongoing monitoring has demonstrated the dominant role played by natural processes such as climate and wave action. There is no evidence that the new ferries are affecting the upper intertidal saltmarsh in the area of the Lymington berth. Technical measurements show a build-up rather than erosion around the ferry terminal since the new ferries were introduced.

5. Wightlink’s “single Project” approach to assessing habitat risk and proposing berth and habitat works is correct and is required under principles of European law. The requirements of Article 6(3) in the Habitats Directive make it clear that the single project approach is correct.

6. Wightlink carefully, transparently and properly undertakes its role as one of the competent authorities involved in assessing the single Project. Wightlink is not permitted to transfer its responsibilities as competent authority to another party. It sets aside any commercial interests when making a decision as competent authority. It will not take a final view on the Project until it has seen the appropriate assessments on the effects of the Project from the other competent authorities, Natural England’s final advice and the representations from other interested parties.

7. Wightlink’s proposed habitat recharge scheme is both useful and proportionate. The Project fully addresses Natural England’s predicted worst case effects of the operation of the ferries and as a result there will be no adverse effect on  the integrity of the European protected sites. The habitat recharge works will be  subject to a binding legal agreement and ongoing independent assessment by a panel of experts. They will delay erosion behind the recharge area and retain sediment in the system which would otherwise be deposited in the Solent off the Needles.

If you have further questions or concerns then please email them to Wightlink’s Lymington Project Manager: paulbrown@wightlink.co.uk

 

Lymington/Yarmouth update by Russell Kew, Chief Executive

As Chief Executive of Wightlink, I feel strongly that that my work has a clearly defined public service value. Having spent over 30 years in the Logistics sector, the last 10 years of which included Ferries and providing life line services to Island communities, I was really pleased to become Chief Executive of Wightlink in late 2009. 

We operate in a busy stretch of water always in sight of land and except in very poor visibility, there’s always something interesting or attractive or both to look at.  Sailing to France and the Channel Islands is fine but short sea links like our Solent ones connect UK communities in important ways as well as, in our case, delivering holiday makers and vital freight to what I think is England’s loveliest Island. 

On the Lymington/Yarmouth route, travellers can also enjoy the magic of the New Forest as part of their holiday. Despite the extended hot summer spell in 2010 and plenty of happy holiday makers using us to get to the Isle of Wight, Wightlink has had to weather some stormy business waters over the past 12 months particularly in Lymington. 

Our actions as “competent authority” for the small area surrounding our Lymington berth (a hang-over from ‘Sealink’, nationalised days) were judicially reviewed in the High Court in February 2010.  The judge found that we had introduced the Wight Class ferries without properly undertaking an Appropriate Assessment of any adverse effect that the ferries may have on Sites protected by the European Union Habitats Directive.  We had taken detailed advice from experts but this was not judged to be sufficient.

No company, and no CEO, relishes any of their procedures being described as “unlawful” and we have devoted a good deal of time in 2010 to setting matters right.  In October, after taking into account advice from Natural England and legal and habitat experts, and without taking commercial considerations into account, our board reached a provisional Appropriate Assessment that the operation of the Wight Class ferries, berth works in Lymington and habitat creation works close to the ferries’ route will not have an adverse effect on the European Sites.

Our applications for planning permissions and relevant licences for the works we want to undertake are currently with the four separate regulatory authorities who must conduct their own Appropriate Assessments.  Only if they grant the necessary consents will Wightlink be able to carry out its own formal Appropriate Assessment and decide whether it can start the works it has proposed.  

It is with regret that we still continue to be subject to sustained attack from a Lymington-based group which opposes the Wight Class ferries.  Members and supporters of the group insist that they want the ferry route to continue and the interests of West Wight to be served but on their own terms.  Since they got together around three years ago, they have repeatedly said that the Wight Class ferries are unsafe.

The latest independent “Review of Wight Class Ferry Operations and Marine Safety” for the Lymington Harbour Commissioners by BMT Isis concluded that “…the low level of marine risk on the Lymington River had not been compromised by the introduction of the Wight Class ferries”.  In fact the “overall impression was of a river fraternity that has settled down with both yachtsmen and ferries successfully coexisting and using the river sensibly and safely”. 

The ferries’ opponents also say that other operators would be quick to take on the route if Wightlink stopped or were pushed aside, serving it with smaller ferries with greater passenger capacity than the 360 per trip provided by the Wight Class ferries.  I doubt it.  I believe any sensible ferry company’s approach would be similar to our own as we strive to deliver a commercially funded public service in an area of natural beauty and to provide proper habitat protection. 

The Wight Class ferries were designed specifically for the route after a great deal of thought. Their propulsion systems provide the safe manoeuvrability necessary within a confined area. Their size is a function of the latest maritime safety rules which require a heavier displacement for ferries of an equivalent size to the thirty year old ferries they replaced.  Their operational displacement is 180 tonnes greater than this thus allowing us to carry cars and freight vehicles alongside each other on the same trip and reduce the number of voyages.

The ferries’ passenger capacity matches the way people have tended to move themselves about over the past decade.  Cars are bigger, more people have them and less people choose to travel without them.  There is little point in any operator investing, as we have done, £30 million in new ferries, to provide craft designed for the habits and vehicles of the 1970s.

It has been alleged by the ferries’ opponents that the new ferries have already led to increased freight traffic taking the Lymington to Yarmouth route to the detriment of New Forest residents.  In fact, freight for the Isle of Wight using the Lymington route hasn’t increased.  Over 85% of the Island’s freight uses the other ferry routes and, given the comparatively rural environments of both Lymington and Yarmouth, I anticipate this will continue.

It is important for any service provider to have the support of the majority of its users.  Yours would help us ensure the maintenance of a modern, effective ferry link between West Wight and the mainland.

You can have your say by writing to:

Mr Stephen Clothier
Area Planning Officer
New Forest District Council
Appletree Court
Beaulieu Road
Lyndhurst
HANTS, SO43 7PA

and

Mr Rob Ainslie
Head of Development Control
New Forest National Park Authority
South Efford House
Milford Road
Everton
Lymington
HANTS, SO41 0JD.

A happy new year and let’s hope for resolution in 2011 of the problems facing Wightlink’s provision of its service in the western Solent.

W Class ferries are safe confirms independent report

The latest independent “Review of Wight Class Ferry Operations and Marine Safety” by BMT Isis is available for download from the Lymington Harbour website at www.lymingtonharbour.co.uk. The research for it was undertaken at various dates including during the 2010 high season for both recreational sailing and Lymington to Yarmouth ferry passages.

Wightlink is pleased to note that the review says that the “overall impression was of a river fraternity that has settled down with both yachtsmen and ferries successfully coexisting and using the river sensibly and safely.”  While the review made a number of useful recommendations for further improvement, it concluded that “…the low level of marine risk on the Lymington River had not been compromised by the introduction of the Wight Class ferries.”

Wightlink very much values the regular advice and guidance it receives from the Lymington Harbour Commissioners and other harbour users.  There is no room for complacency in the maintenance and improvement of marine safety.  However, this independent review clearly shows that Lymington River Association allegations about Wight Class ferry safety issues and problems are without foundation.

Wightlink applies for planning and licensing consents

Wightlink today (5th November) announced that it is applying for the planning permissions and licences it needs to improve its Lymington berth facilities for the 1.3 million passengers each year who use the route served by its “W” class ferries between Lymington and Yarmouth.  Wightlink wants to ease the issue of foot passengers getting on and off the ferry caused by having to use a temporary linkspan at Lymington and to protect customers from the weather and improve the ferries’ timekeeping. 

The Company is also applying for the planning permission and licences it needs to carry out habitat creation and recharge works to the east of the Lymington ferry route.  Wightlink proposes using around 2,000 cubic metres of the 30,000 cubic metres of sediment dredged annually from the harbour to improve and maintain the leisure boat industry’s provisions.  The sediment will be placed on an agreed site at Boiler Marsh and is intended to restore habitat in excess of that which might be eroded by the action of the ferries over the next thirty years according to Natural England’s (NE’s) advisors. The works will also protect existing saltmarsh behind the recharge area. It is anticipated that the sediment will need to be recharged to the area once a year for at least three years.

Wightlink is the statutory harbour authority for Lymington Pier and consequently is a competent authority under the European Union Habitats Directive and the Habitats Regulations. The Company is therefore required by law as competent authority to undertake an Appropriate Assessment (AA) of the effect of the operation of the “W” class ferries and its planning proposals on the Solent and Southampton Water Special Protection Area and the Solent and Southampton Special Area of Conservation (the European Sites). In doing so, Wightlink must take account of advice from NE which, in UK law, is the appropriate statutory “nature conservation body” whose views must be considered by competent authorities.

In accordance with its methodology published in the Spring, Wightlink’s board met to carry out a provisional AA on 27th October and, without taking commercial considerations into account, reached its provisional decision that the Project (operation of the “W” class ferries and its proposed works) will not cause an adverse effect on the European Sites.

Wightlink wants to start berth and habitat works by next spring.  However it will only be in a position to do so once all the relevant regulatory authorities have undertaken their own AAs of the effects of the Project and granted the necessary consents and after Wightlink (taking into account the advice of NE and the AAs of the other competent authorities) has carried out its formal AA of the Project.

Downloads

 

The Introduction Of The New "W" Class Ferries 

The introduction of Wightlink’s three new ferries on the Lymington/Yarmouth route has been contentious. However, over their frst year’s operation, the ferries’ operational and safety record has been excellent and we believe they represent a signifcant enhancement to the service we offer our passengers.

Their route runs close to and between two European nature conservation sites (see the map below).

A judgement in the High Court in February 2010 confrmed that Wightlink is the competent authority which must decide whether or not the ferries pose a threat to the integrity of the habitat in the conservation sites. However, the Court held that the original assessment made by Wightlink regarding the effects of the operation of the new ferries on the conservation sites prior to the ferries’ introduction was not suffcient to satisfy the EU Habitats Directive and UK law.

Wightlink will now start the assessment process again taking account of the possible effects on the conservation sites of:
  a. the operation of the new ferries
  b. proposed improvements to the Lymington berthworks for the new ferries 
  c. proposed habitat protection and regeneration works which Wightlink intends to undertake in connection with the operation of the new ferries. 

Please download the briefing note below which outlines the process of what now needs to be done by Wightlink, including applications for planning and other consents from a number of local and national authorities. Let us have your views by email supplied by 30 July.
  
Thank you for your time in reading this.
 
The wightlink management Team (June 2010)

 

 

Scoping Report 

 Wightlink has today submitted a Scoping Report to all relevant stakeholders as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of Wightlink’s proposals for the ferry service running from Lymington to Yarmouth. Wightlink has undertaken to complete a voluntary EIA of the  operation of the ferry service on the Lymington to Yarmouth route, which includes the implementation and completion of shore works at the ferry terminal and the mitigation works on the salt marshes to the east of Lymington River, together forming the Project for the purposes of the assessment. The Scoping Report will inform the content of the Environmental Statement (ES) for the Project which will accompany the applications for the relevant consents required to complete the Project. )For more information on the EIA process please see note to editors below) 

The Scoping Report has been submitted to all relevant stakeholders for the Project for comment, who include:

  • New Forest District Council and National Park Authority who will determine the applications for planning permission for the Project and both of whom are competent authorities under the Habitats Directive and Regulations in relation to the grant of planning permission; 
  • Marine Management Organisation who will determine the applications for the marine licences needed for the Project and is a competent authority under the Habitats Directive and Regulations in relation to the grant of marine licences;
  • Environment Agency who will act as consultee to the local planning authorities and will be responsible for determining an application for flood defence consent for the shore works;
  • Natural England who will act as consultee to the competent authorities in relation to the appropriate assessment required under the Habitats Directive and Regulations;
  • Other Stakeholders including Lymington Harbour Commissioners and the Lymington River Association.

Full details of the parties who have been consulted can be found in chapter one of the Scoping Report.

Under the relevant legislation, the local planning authorities are required to provide their opinion on the scope of the ES having considered the Scoping Report and consultation responses to it. Their scoping opinion has to be issued by 29 July 2010. 
A copy of the Scoping report is available here

Any person wishing to comment on the proposed scope of the EIA should write to the local planning authorities and any comments should be received in advance of the date specified above. Comments can also be submitted to Wightlink at the following address Wightlink c/o Alistair Billington, Environmental Resources Management, 2nd Floor Exchequer Court, 33 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8AA. oralistair.billington@erm.com.

We would be grateful if any comments submitted to the local planning authorities could also be copied to Wightlink at Guwharf Road, Portsmouth, PO1 2LA. 

Note to Editors:

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the process by which the environmental effects of projects are identified before the consents necessary for the relevant project are granted.  

The statutory bodies determining applications for those consents are required to take account of the information provided as a result of the EIA process in determining those applications.  That information includes the environmental statement (ES) Wightlink will submit with its applications for the consents it needs for the Project and the responses to consultation on the ES.  EIA ensures that decisions are made in the knowledge of the attendant environmental effects and with full engagement of statutory bodies, local and national groups and members of the public.

EIA has a number of stages. Scoping is the process of determining the content and extent of matters to be covered in the EIA generally and to be reported in the ES.  Scoping seeks to ensure that the information provided in an ES addresses the key effects of the Project.

The ES is the most visible part of the EIA process. It will draw together the findings of Wightlink’s technical studies undertaken to investigate the potential environmental effects of the Project. It is Wightlink’s responsibility to prepare the ES and present the information in a comprehensive, clear and objective manner for review by the relevant authorities determining consents required for the project, statutory consultees and members of the public.  

 

Wightlink’s observations regarding recent questions asked and discussions held in parliament.

This week there have been both an Adjournment Debate and written replies to a number of questions lodged by Desmond Swayne MP regarding Wightlink’s operations in the Lymington River. 

In the Adjournment Debate the Minister confirmed that Wightlink is the relevant competent authority responsible for assessing the impact of the new vessels. Wightlink is undertaking its duties in this respect and has asked stakeholders for their comments regarding its proposed assessment process.

In the Debate, Mr Swayne said that, left to nature, the salt marshes would be growing and extending were it not for the propulsion units on the ferries. There is no evidence that this is true. It is widely accepted that salt marshes all over the Solent are diminishing but, as yet, no study has provided conclusive evidence regarding the cause of the loss. As the Minister said “we need to have a sense of perspective and not blame everything on what has happened recently.” Wightlink notes that natural erosion has played and continues to play its part and leisure craft activity is considerable throughout the Solent often requiring significant dredging. 30,000 tonnes of mud are dredged from Lymington Harbour alone every year to accommodate the leisure craft industry.

The Minister went onto say “there is no evidence to suggest that any impacts will be different to those already predicted”. Wightlink’s proposed habitat regeneration and protection plans are designed to deal with these. He concluded by saying there is no clear scientific basis on which to support a decision to stop or suspend the ferry operation at the moment. His written answers confirmed the remarks he made in the debate and added “that any impacts arising from the operation of these ferries up to the spring of 2011, when works needed to mitigate the impact of the ferries are planned to start, would be insignificant and not likely to result in any measurable harm or damage”.  Wightlink notes that ongoing surveys undertaken both by Wightlink’s appointed advisors and by the Lymington Harbour Commission continue to fail to find evidence of ferry-induced erosion.

Wightlink also notes that Mr Swayne professes not to be anti-ferry and we assume his views take account of the value of the vital link between Lymington and Yarmouth and the significant economic and employment benefits that it provides for his constituents and thousands of others. For the avoidance of doubt we hope it is useful to remind interested parties that Wightlink is not the only competent authority that has to carry out Appropriate Assessments relating to the project. A number of consents and licences are required from The New Forest District Council, The National Parks Authority, The Marine Management Organisation and the Environment Agency all of whom will carry out independent assessments. Only when they are satisfied no adverse impact will occur from the operation of the ferries, will they issue the required consents. Wightlink will only finalise its own Appropriate Assessment when all other Competent Authorities have confirmed that there will be no adverse impact.

Wightlink fully understands the frustration felt by all of our customers who currently endure less than ideal embarkation facilities in Lymington, and those other river users who are inconvenienced by the additional time taken to moor the ferries.  We would like to assure you we are doing everything possible to resolve the situation as quickly as we can and we would like to apologise to all affected by the delays in completing our works.

Issued 18 June 2010

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