|LYMINGTON TO YARMOUTH FERRY
PLANNING INSPECTOR’S DECISION AND NEXT STEPS
Wightlink is delighted that the Inspector has granted planning permission for the Lymington berth improvement and habitat works we wish to undertake in connection with the operation of the W Class ferries.
In October 2010, prior to applying to New Forest District Council and the New Forest National Park Authority for planning permission for the works, Wightlink published, in our role as one of the competent authorities involved in the matter, our provisional Appropriate Assessment (AA) of the likely effects of our proposed works and the operation of the W Class ferries on the integrity of the protected sites adjacent to the ferries’ route.
Wightlink undertook then to consider the AAs of the other competent authorities before making our own final AA as part of our decision whether to proceed with the works. Planning permissions have now been granted and the AA undertaken by the Inspector has concluded that the operation of the project (the works Wightlink has applied to undertake and the operation of the W Class ferries) will not adversely affect the integrity of the protected sites.
However, the Marine Management Organisation has still to complete its AA and issue the necessary licences. Thus Wightlink’s board remains unable to complete its own final AA and resolve whether or not to implement the works. Time to accomplish this is now very short. If Wightlink resolve to proceed to implement the works contractors would need to be commissioned in sufficient time to enable the berth works to start in December 2011. The habitat works need to be undertaken in February and March 2012 for reasons of wildlife protection and to comply with Natural England’s advice.
To undertake the works, the legal and associated costs are in excess of £3.5m to secure these permissions.
We are pleased to note that the Inspector has agreed that a maximum of 18,000 trips per year is appropriate and acceptable in accordance with the terms of the planning agreement in respect of the project. We will therefore not have to reduce the early morning and late night sailings as we previously announced if restricted to 16,500 trips per year and the need for job losses through redundancy has been removed.
Wightlink, Isle of Wight Ferries
T: 023 9285 5427