Mini-marina hopes get key backing

Plans to install pontoons on Berwick quayside to cater for visiting yachts have received an important boost.

Thursday, 23rd March 2017, 10:00 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:07 am
Berwick quayside
Berwick quayside

Berwick Town Council has agreed to contribute up to £10,000 for a feasibility study, with the newly-formed Coastal Community Team taking the lead role on delivery of the project.

It is envisaged up to 20 yachts could be moored on the riverside next to the Chanderly, possibly by 2018, delivering a significant economic boost to the town.

Coun Eric Goodyer said: “There are pontoon marinas up and down the coast, including a very successful one at Eyemouth, and we do know that leisure craft and visitors with lots of money are sailing right past us and heading to Amble to moor up so there is a very strong economic case.

“We know there is also potential private sector backing for this and there is also potential public sector backing and the only thing holding it up is a small feasibility study looking at the tidal flows in the river and whether or not there is sufficient depth to do this.

“There is a risk the report could conclude the project is not viable but it could deliver jobs and new services to the town so it’s a risk worth taking.”

Harbour commissioners, Berwick Community Trust, the Chamber of Trade and local MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan have already signalled their

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support for the project.

Coun Dave Blackburn, at Monday’s full council meeting, said: “An awful lot of groundwork has been done on this already and those closely involved are off the view that it should go forward but there is a formal need for an official report that would enable us to take the next step.”

He believes it will help kick-start the regeneration of the stagnant quayside area, attracting the ‘high-end’ tourism market and complement other plans for the growth of the harbour.

“We are talking about a potential investment of £300,000 to £400,000,” he said.

The idea was spawned last summer 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.

Coun Alex Gibson expressed concern that there was insufficient information to warrant a £10,000 spend and Coun Gordon McLean questioned the risk of damage when the river is in spate.

But Coun Paul Hodgson, who has been involved in the discussions, said measures could be taken to avoid any damage being caused by flood debris.

“One of the firms we’ve had discussions with has a lot of experience on the River Tay which has a similar flow process as the Tweed and they are confident,” he said.