Posted on 04 Mar 2009
The Solent Protection Society (SPS) whilst supporting the need for a regular ferry service, deeply regrets the decision by Wightlink to bring the new ferries into operation before all the tests are complete and before the Marine and Fisheries Agency has reached its decision taking into account the advice provided by Natural England and before Lymington Harbour Commission has produced a full safety report.
The Solent Protection Society has been actively engaged in attempts to resolve the difficulties posed by the new ferries. A working party of the SPS has been closely following developments for the last 18 months and the SPS is fortunate that its Council contains members who have professional expertise in the regulatory and environmental fields. As a result the SPS has available to it the necessary expertise to seek to ensure that the decision makers take all necessary steps to protect the environment.
Our present position is that we take note of the advice given by Natural England that the new ferries will have an adverse effect on the environment of Lymington Harbour. For the Ferries to run in an acceptable manner it is important that there is a rapid conclusion to the discussions between Wightlink and the competent authorities about such matters as the speed of ferries, whether more than one ferry at a time should be in the River and the extent of any environmental mitigation.
The proposal to run the new ferries is complex and multi-faceted, involving the safety of sailors, potential damage to the environment and economic and social factors. The Solent Protection Society by virtue of its constitution can only concern itself with the protection of the environment and will support the Lymington Society and the Lymington River Association and the yacht clubs to seek a resolution to the present impasse, and ensure that a rigorous monitoring programme is implemented to measure future changes to the harbour.