RSPB Wetlands Project meeting 17 Apr 2009
About a hundred people, RCYC members, members from other clubs and Burnham residents, gathered in the Clubhouse to hear the latest news about this controversial project. RSPB Operations Manager (Projects), Jeff Kew, Wallasea Island Project Manager, Chris Tyas, and Dr Colin Scott of ASP Marine Research were there to present the latest developments and answer questions.
There has been a shift of emphasis since the previous meeting, held at the RBYC a couple of months ago. On that occasion, the RSPB did nothing but promote this new project and seemed mildly surprised that the Burnham residents viewed it in a less favourable light. It seemed to me that the planners at that stage were totally unaware that Burnham, a riverside town of character with a sailing heritage, would regard this scheme as nothing less than a disaster…
Since then there has been a considerable exchange of views; both the RSPB and Cross Rail, the other major participant in this scheme, are now under no illusions as to the possible effects their pet project could have on a town that did not invite this development. Both organisations have stated that they would not wish to be held responsible for the demise of Burnham and its future; consequently there has been much discussion as to the proper management of the scheme, thus enabling the sailing activities on the rivers to co-exist with the development.
Much still needs to be done; the Crouch Harbour Authority is deeply involved with the discussions and future planning. In practice this means:-
- There will need to be a ‘shipping management movement plan’
- Critical racing times need to be identified
- Conflicts between the sailors and barges, loaded with ‘spoil’ must be assessed
- There may have to be adjustments made to some courses
- Some moorings may have to be moved
- Burnham Week remains a considerable problem
- Radios will connect the barges to the CHA and the various clubs so that information can be readily exchanged. This worked well during the development of the Wetlands Project
- The racing fraternity seem to be well represented; not so the pleasure sailors!
Much was made of the benefit to the town of the increase of tourists to the area. Although it is to be hoped that most would arrive by train, it was pointed out that most would probably arrive by car. The need for designated car parks would be a considerable problem, though not necessarily impossible to solve.
Once the necessary planning consents are in place, it is likely that work on the unloading facility would start within the year.
The audience departed, not altogether mollified and with the feeling that the CHA must continue to be vigilant. It’s our only hope!