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Review is underway to determine future harbour requirements

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Friday 23 August 2019

An investigation is underway that could lead to a multi-million pound development of new harbour facilities, following a requête debated by the States in May.

It will consider whether St Peter Port Harbour should be extended or some existing activities relocated, which could free up space and provide new opportunities for development at St Peter Port.

The requête proposed creating a new berth at the end of the White Rock, to the east of the QEII marina, which could handle larger vessels than the current harbours.  That would also create space at St Peter Port Harbour for other uses.

The States Trading Supervisory Board (STSB) was instead directed to conduct a wider review of operations in St Peter Port and St Sampson's, to consider if new harbour facilities are required, and what the best location would be for them.

A multi-disciplinary project team has been set up, with extensive maritime expertise and knowledge of current port operations and requirements. It is led by Guernsey Ports capital works manager John Mitchell and Harbour Master Captain David Barker.

Mr Mitchell has worked at Guernsey Harbours for more than 15 years. He was previously involved in the project to replace the cranes and refurbish the freight handling facilities at St Peter Port Harbour.

Captain Barker is a master mariner, with experience in both the merchant navy and Royal Navy, spanning more than 40 years.

They are supported by Guernsey Harbours' commercial and technical teams, as well as staff who work across the States Trading Assets on finance, procurement and communication.

Captain Barker said: "Life today would have been unimaginable when the two harbours were being built in the 1800s. Whole industries have come and gone since then, and the very fact they continue to provide lifelines for the island is testament to the foresight of our predecessors and the infrastructure they created for future generations."

"However there are significant challenges, particularly around the competition for space in St Peter Port and the way fuels are imported at St Sampson's. Those need to be addressed, so that our harbours today meet the requirements of the 21st century.

"We would hope that in doing so, any new facilities we create will equally stand the test of time, and will also be serving the island well 150 years from now."

Mr Mitchell said as well as addressing current challenges, the project will also look at opportunities:

"There is a lot of potential to develop new business for the harbours, to bring additional revenues for the benefit of all islanders. For example, how can we better cater for large private boats and super yachts? This is a market for which Guernsey already has some attractions, but what we can offer is severely restricted by the existing facilities and layout of the ports. We will be considering this and other opportunities."

The work will be overseen by a newly formed sub-committee of STSB - the Commercial Ports Investigation Board. It provides political and strategic direction to the project team, and meets monthly to review progress.

The first stage includes an in-depth study of potential environmental impacts that may arise from an extension to St Peter Port Harbour. That involves detailed technical assessments of any likely effects on land and offshore, and how these might be mitigated. It will consider aspects such as traffic, marine life, coastal processes, noise, and air quality.

The project team will also update information on tidal flows and sea depths in the area of investigation. A company will be appointed to provide the necessary specialist expertise in these areas, but the review will also draw extensively on local knowledge and experience.

Previous detailed studies of harbour requirements and potential development have been carried out in preparation for other projects, such as refurbishment of the St Peter Port freight facilities. Mr Mitchell said some of this valuable work needed updating, but most is still relevant and will be used in the current review.

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