The environmental consultants state that there will be little or no increased impact on ecology with the introduction of the new ferries.
Under the Habitats regulations, an assessment is only required for a Project or a Plan. The introduction of the new ferries is not a Project or a Plan but is considered to be an activity and, as such, does not require a formal assessment. Notwithstanding that, an Environmental Appraisal was carried out, which concluded the following:
- It is considered that there will be little or no increased impact on ecology when comparing the proposed ferry to the existing ferry.
- It is considered that any potential negative impacts which could affect erosion and bank stability could be mitigated by the control of operational vessel speeds.
- It is not considered that any increase in traffic as a result of the proposals would have a negative impact on the local area as the proposed ferry would carry fewer vehicles than the existing ferry was originally designed for, and in addition the local road connections have improved since the original ferries were introduced.
- It is not considered that there are any planning issues relating to the proposals as only minor on-shore works are proposed relating to improvements in ship-to-shore integration.
There is no additional dredging required or planned for the introduction of the new ferries. At maximum displacement they would draw just 2cm more than the existing ferries. However, operationally we expect the new ferries to operate at 0.15m less than the current C Class ferries when full laden. Around 113 tonnes of the deadweight capability is surplus to requirement.
The new ferries will be much more environmentally friendly than the old ferries. The new engines meet all EU emission standards, no cooling water will circulate out of the ship (it is all internal) and fuel consumption will be lower. The engines will be shut down in port, which is currently not the case with the C Class ferries.
There is no evidence to show that ferry wash plays any significant part in the loss of the salt marshes in land around the Lymington River/Estuary. In fact, the conclusion of all recent studies is that the retreat is a natural process due to the various factors, increasing tidal reach and average sea temperatures.
Impact on river users
The profile of the new ferries is not twice that of the existing ships (the above water lateral is 84% greater). The new ships will have no discernable additional effect other than for yachts being in the wind shadow for a few seconds longer.
No plans are yet in place to reduce the speed of the new ferries in the river. This will only happen if trials show that it is necessary and even then, probably only at low tide.
Wightlink is committed to working with the RLYC to ensure the continuation of the Junior Sailing Programme, and is considering schedule alterations during Wednesdays while this programmes is taking place.
The control of movement and safety of vessels in the Lymington River is the responsibility of Lymington Harbour Commissioners. With the introduction of the new ferries Wightlink sees no reason why the continuation of sailing, including weekly Junior Sailing, should in any way be affected.
Wightlink’s replacement ferries, Information to support an appropriate assessment of their likely environmental impact.
The marine environmental agency ABP Mer prepared this Report on the probable effects on the environment of Wightlink’s replacement ferries between Yarmouth and Lymington.
The Report has concluded that the contribution to inter-tidal erosion in the estuary from ferry waves is not significant.
The Report states that there is a lot of evidence from separately produced analyses, models and surveys that confirms our understanding of the scale of the changes that are likely to occur from the introduction of the new
Wight class ferries.
The Report listed a number of reasons for having confidence that the new ferries would have no greater environmental impact than the current C class ferries:
The new W class ferries are predicted to create ferry wash waves of a similar magnitude to the existing ferry operations at equivalent speeds, not greater ;
The contribution of ferry waves to overall wave energy within the estuary is very small;
The maximum height of ferry waves is much smaller than that of wind waves within the estuary; and
The energy associated with ferry waves is not large enough
to cause erosion of inter-tidal areas.
The Report identified the capital dredging that took place in Lymington Harbour in the 1970s, to create the yacht marinas, the natural meandering tendency of the estuary and greater wind-wave penetration into the estuary as factors causing erosion of the inter-tidal mudflats and salt marsh – rather than increased ferry-wave activity. The Report also found that cliffing of Spartina marshes at the mouth of the estuary had increased their vulnerability to lateral erosion.
There is good news for conservationists, as the Report states with ‘high confidence’ that there has been no substantial change to the mean low water alignment along the estuary since, at least, 1994.
The Report concludes that, in total, the evidence should provide the statutory authorities with a high level of confidence about the findings of the assessment. Allied to this are the control recommendations presented by BMT Sea Tech (2008), which will assist with the management of navigation on the river.
Overall, Lymington Harbour Commissioners’ risk assessment provides a framework within which the ongoing activity of the ferry service can be integrated such that the needs of all users of the estuary can be taken into consideration as part of the on-going management of the Harbour
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