Doubts are cast on Tweed pontoon plan

Reservations have been expressed about the feasibility of floating pontoons for visiting leisure craft at Berwick quayside.

Thursday, 8th June 2017, 11:12 am
Alan Irving, chief executive of Berwick Harbour Commission Picture by Jane Coltman

Alan Irving, chief executive of Berwick Harbour Commission, is concerned they could be damaged by the River Tweed when it is in spate.

“I am not against the idea of a facility which can accommodate visiting pleasure craft,” he told the annual town meeting. “I have, however, expressed my strong reservations about the proposed location of the pontoons.

“Berwick quayside lies alongside the main river flow and my genuinely-held reservations relate to the protection of the pontoons and any craft when the river is in full spate.”

However, he stressed that both he and the harbour commission remain supportive of any initiative that enhances the tourism offer of the town and helps economic growth.

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The project was initiated by former town councillor David Blackburn, working in conjunction with local yachtsmen, with the aim of kick-starting the regeneration of the stagnant quayside area.

They first considered an 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 there would be inadequate demand and it was deemed a non-starter.

The group considered the market and defined it as up to 20 yachts at any one time. They envisaged that such a facility, next to the Chandlery, could be delivered by 2018.

A feasibility study, funded by £10,000 from Berwick Town Council, is currently being undertaken.

“We’ve looked at this very closely but we now have to leave it in the hands of the experts,” said Mr Blackburn.

Mr Irving added: “I wish David and his team, which I understand may now be led by the newly-formed Berwick Coastal Community Team, every success with their project. They are, I know, consulting with organisations professionally qualified to assess this type of scenario but my reservations will remain until the professionals present their findings.

“I really hope it will work. I’m just a little bit concerned about the power of that river. If you remember, they had to do the railway bridge lights twice because the weights in the river wouldn’t hold the cables in place. I hope I am wrong.”

However, the pontoon plan was wished every success by boat enthusiast David Spencer-Barclay who revealed there were a number of people from the Berwick area who currently use mooring facilities at Amble.

“As soon as it happens, the happier we will be,” he said. “It’s a tortuous journey down there at the moment.”