PLANS are progressing to provide up to 500 extra berths for leisure craft in the Upper Harbour.
The scheme could cost up to £4m but may raise £200k per year in fees and Whitby Harbour Board chair Mike Cockerill said although there are many potential stumbling blocks, it is a proposal well worth pursuing.
“We want to go through things step by step,” he said.
“We have a waiting list so we’re led to believe by people in the business that if the upper reaches were impounded then yes there would be a lot of people wanting to have a berth.
“I totally agree that the existing harbour needs a lot of work on it and that’s why we commissioned this asset condition report.
“When everything is there together we will have a huge wishlist.
“Some of them are maintenance, some are improvements, and we will have to get some sort of scoring matrix to get a priority.
“It’s all part of a rather big plan.”
At last week’s harbour board meeting the group received a report from the Environment Agency discussing their initial concerns, and further talks with both the EA, Natural England and the North York Moors National Park will also be required.
Coun Cockerill said: “We’re going to be speaking to some of the other agencies and authorities who can put a stop to it if so inclined.
“We want to gauge their feelings and if there’s no real objections then it’s worthwhile working the scheme up.”
The Gazette reported in June 2011 that initial proposals had been discussed relating to a scheme to impound the Upper Harbour.
One of the major concerns cited by residents was the effects that 500 extra boats would have upon the frequency of Swing Bridge openings and borough councillor Sandra Turner said: “If we develop the Upper Harbour we still have to have access across the bridge.
“Already we have problems that the town comes to a standstill, it’s a massive area we need to take into account.”
However, Coun Cockerill added that extra berths may not mean extra openings.
He said: “I think it would be very difficult to say we want another 50 per cent bridge openings.
“I’m not a yachtsman, never have been, but I imagine that the vessels that were up there would be somewhat smaller so it raises the question, would they require the bridge to be opened?
“I don’t know.”
The impoundment scheme would require the construction of a weir across the River Esk at Whitehall Landings, which may effect migratory fish species such as salmon and sea trout.
The Environment Agency’s initial report also highlighted other potential problems, such as reduced biodiversity and increases in pollution, but despite these concerns the agency did not discount entirely the possibility of impoundment.