Following the completion of extensive
studies Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC) received the necessary
approval to go ahead with their Channel Deepening project. A contract was let to international dredging contractor Van Oord UK Ltd., to carry out
essential works to the approach channels to the harbour and port.
This work was needed to ensure that the port continues to be able to offer an
efficient service to the ferry and shipping industries. Depth was increased from 6m to 7.5m to accommodate modern ferries at all states of the
tide. In addition, the narrow Middle Ship Channel was widened to improve
safety and accessibility by these vessels. At the same time improvements
were made to the marking of the small boat channel to make passage by recreational
craft more straightforward.
The letting of the contract came at the conclusion of almost two years work in
the preparation of a full Impact Assessment and consultation with harbour users
and many other groups. As a result of information gathered during the
assessment, future maintenance dredging practices in the harbour will be
modified to help conserve the inter tidal mudflats which are internationally
important for bird life.
In addition, the Commissioners will be working with English Heritage to ensure
the conservation of the Swash Channel designated wreck which was discovered as a
result of the research work into the project. This wreck, thought to date from
the 16th century, will be protected while the work is carried out and further
research is scheduled by English Heritage next year.
Almost 2,000,000m³ of sand and silt were dredged from the channels both
inside the harbour and in the approaches. Of this, over 1,100,000m³ was made available to the local Coast Protection Authorities (Poole, Bournemouth and
Purbeck District Councils) for beach replenishment to enhance the protection of
the coast of Poole Bay. Combining these projects where possible provided a
significant cost saving and reduced the overall environmental effect by
minimising both dredging and sea disposal. Material unsuited for beach
nourishment was disposed of at sea under controlled conditions.
Jim Stewart, Chief Executive of the Harbour Commissioners, welcomed the project
saying "This work is essential to the commercial future of the Port of
Poole. This project will also enable the Commissioners to continue to manage the
harbour proactively to the benefit of all interests".
Notices to Mariners were published giving details of the work as
it progressed, advising of buoy movements, etc.
Poole Harbour Commissioners
20 New Quay Road
Poole BH15 4AF