£250k bid prepared for Tweed pontoons

An application for £250,000 is being prepared to fund the installation of floating pontoons for visiting leisure craft at Berwick quayside.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 09 February, 2018, 08:28
Berwick quayside

The bid will be submitted to the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund, which funded a similar scheme in Eyemouth and the £2million repair scheme on Tweed Dock’s jetty.

“The bid is 90 per cent written but we need to push it forward through the Berwick Regeneration Commission,” said Berwick Town Council clerk Gareth Davies at Monday’s meeting of the people and communities committee.

A management group needs to be formed and there have already been several expressions of interest.

“I’m very much in favour of this,” said committee chairman Coun Karin Graham. “We contributed £10,000 for the feasibility study and should now take it to the next step.”

An independent study has already concluded that it is technically feasible.

Some reservations had previously been expressed, with Harbour Commission chief executive Alan Irving among those concerned the pontoons could be damaged when the River Tweed is in spate. However, he is supporting the project now the study has concluded it is feasible.

It is hoped the project could be a catalyst for further investment in the quayside area, widely regarded as one of Berwick’s most under-utilised assets.

“The proposal is for a project to deliver moorings for up to 12 leisure craft,” said former councillor Eric Goodyer.

“There are major moorings to the north at the Firth of Forth and south at the River Tyne, with two smaller casual moorings at Eyemouth and Amble. These safe havens, when linked to our facility on the River Tweed will complete the north east coastal marine highway.

“Discussions have already been opened with Eyemouth, which completed a similar scheme in 2013 to the great benefit of the town’s economy.

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“Berwick’s moorings will add an essential link to connect Eyemouth to Amble for local leisure boats and add to the attraction for leisure craft from overseas.”

Mr Goodyer suggested the project could deliver a Gross Value Added of £4.6million over 25 years.

“The quay has been identified as a site which, if developed, would deliver a significant economic impact for Berwick,” said Mr Goodyer. “Much of the land is in public ownership and a series of small developments have already enhanced the area.

“This project could catalyse significant additional investment into the Tweed estuary, delivering inward investment and new employment opportunities, evidenced by Eyemouth’s success with its moorings.”

The feasibility study suggests a pontoon would be suitable for boats up to 14metres long, although boats with drafts over 1.3metres would be limited to roughly half the pontoon length. There would also be tidal restrictions on its use.

The idea was spawned in 2016 when several experienced local yachtsmen joined a think tank to consider speedy delivery of a realistic low-cost facility for visiting yachtsmen.

They first considered an expensive and ambitious plan, contained in a 2007 report, to construct a 100-200 yacht marina on the river at a cost of £15-£25million.

It was agreed that there would be inadequate demand for such a facility and, particularly given the current economic climate and likely increased cost, the plan was a non-starter.

The group considered the market and defined it as up to 20 visiting yachts at any one time seeking to take on provisions, eat out and sight-see. These tourists would be expected to stay for one to two nights. Local businesses would assist in providing shower, changing and washing facilities. Permissions from relevant authorities would still be required.