A NEW scheme proposed by Whitby Harbour Board may see the upper reaches of the harbour “dammed”.
The multi-million pound project may see a weir placed across the Esk at the upper end of the Harbour, near Whitehall Landing, which will create hundreds of additional berths for pleasure crafts.
The major project, which is estimated to cost between £2m-£3m, would create a reservoir of water between the weir and Ruswarp, allowing for greater navigation of the area for small craft.
Consultancy group Royal Haskoning was commissioned to produce a feasibility report and their results were presented at Whitby Harbour Board’s meeting on Monday at Sneaton Castle.
The report highlighted three different available weir options, but also pointed out a number of issues that would need to be resolved before the scheme can progress.
Alex Richards, Scarborough Borough Council’s project manager, said: “It’s possible, and the three options come in at £2million to £3.5million.
“It has the potential to create up to 500 additional berths, although this will probably be restricted to 200 based upon what can be accessed from council land.”
The report stated that the project’s biggest obstacle would be the environmental impact, and Mr Richards added: “The transit of migratory fishes could be impeded by placing a weir in the river, and a weir of this type may change water quality and siltation.”
The consent of the environment agency is therefore required and so no progress can be made until their recommendations are presented to the harbour board, which is expected to take place in December.
In drafting the report, consultation took place with technical officers, harbour staff, Harbour Board members, and the Harbour Consultative Group.
The cheapest option available is a fixed weir, which would cost around £1.7million.
However, this would only allow access for up to two hours in each tide cycle for boats with a draft less than 1m, and so was discouraged by the report.
A second suggestion, costing around £2.7m, is to construct a half-tidal weir with a flap gate.
This would allow around six hours of access each tidal cycle, and the Royal Haskoning report stated: “The gate prevents the berths drying out and significantly increases the time available for access to the inner harbour over the upper part of the tidal cycle.
“The half-tidal flap gate can be controlled automatically and is the most simple and cost-effective type of gate.
The final option would provide 24-hour access up and down the river and would include the construction of a 20m by 10m lock.
However at £2.9m, this is also the most expensive option, and a return on the investment could take up to 20 years.
For an additional cost, each of these options could include a footpath and cycle way across the weir which would open up areas for further development.
A river-based hydro-power scheme could also work in the area, with the possibility of generating up to £25,000 per year in revenue per turbine.