Harbour’s long wait could be over

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CRUCIAL work to a flood-damaged north Northumberland harbour could finally happen, after hundreds of thousands of pounds of vital funding has been granted in principle.

Delighted Warkworth Harbour Commissioners have said they can breathe a ‘huge sigh of relief’ following their successful bid for cash towards a new quay at the harbour in Amble, but must now work hard to complete the ‘final piece of the jigsaw’ to ensure they get their hands on the money.

It comes after the Marine Management Organisation’s (MMO’s) judging panel approved in principle an application for a grant of £275,000 through the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) Axis 3 scheme for the project. But to carry out this work and obtain the grant, the commissioners must also separately seek the necessary consents from the MMO’s marine licensing team.

If successful, it will bring an end to a long-running saga, which stems back to 2008 when the harbour was damaged by severe flooding.

Dr Paul Morrison, spokesman for the harbour commissioners, said: “We are delighted. Obviously it is a huge sigh of relief for us.

“In this current financial climate it has been very difficult to find support funding so it is particularly warming that we are getting support for Amble.

“With the MMO giving the nod for the next stage it gives us optimism.

“The licensing bid is now the primary focus of our work at the moment to make sure we meet the criteria of the MMO to secure the funding, because without the funding we can’t secure the works and the works won’t start until the final piece of the jigsaw is in place.

“We are working on the bid and if there are no hitches we should have it in place and ready for next year.”

The aim of the project is to stabilise the damaged quay and prevent collapse into the navigation channel, to provide 80metres of new quay for the berthing of six fishing vessels, resurface the quay to improve access to vessels and provide space for a shellfish purification plant, as well as providing concrete facing to the quay to improve berthing conditions and reduce the risk of damage to boats in bad weather.

It is also hoped that the repairs will increase the appeal of the harbour to tourists.

The nod from the MMO is especially welcome, after the commissioners have had numerous attempts for money turned down, including a previous application to the EFF Innovation Fund.

The six-figure sum will cover around half the cost of the repair work, with the harbour commissioners also contributing to the scheme.

Dr Morrison said: “We have tried very hard to secure the money but we have hit a brick wall on a number of different occasions, but we have finally done it and it is a great relief.

“This is the final piece of the money. The harbour commissioners have put some money into the pot as well.”

He added that if the commissioners do clear the final hurdle and officially secure the cash, they will look to start work straight away.