The Harbour Board has established an annual River Hamble Forum, held in late March or early April each year.
Should there be any issues or matters of concern which you wish to raise as a River-user or stakeholder in the intervening period between Forum meetings, you should contact any member of either the Harbour Board or Management Committee.
It has been a busy year since the last Annual Report, but the number of incidents has been down on previous years and Harbour Authority staff have been able to focus on some other issues.
The team has seen some changes since the last report, with the retirement of one of the long-standing patrol officers, Paul Worthington, at the end of 2014 and the arrival of Charon Baggaley who has joined the administration team on a part-time basis. Once again, two seasonal Patrol Officers were brought in for the summer and two more have recently been recruited for the coming summer season.
This summer will see Harbour Board members Chris Moody and David Jobson coming to the end of their present terms. The roles have been advertised. There have also been a couple of changes on the Management Committee since the last report. David le Mare has been replaced by Brian Mead as the representative of the Association of Hamble River Yacht Clubs and John Selby has taken over as RYA representative from Roger Pritchard.
On the financial front, a small surplus is anticipated for the current financial year (FY14/15). Income streams have been much as expected, although visitor income remains depressed. Expenditure has been in line with the approved budget, with the exception of replacement engines for the Patrol Boats, the costs of which are rising faster than inflation. Harbour Office staff remain alert to opportunities to enhance income and to minimise expenditure where it is safe to do so. As a result, Harbour Dues were only increased by 1.5% for 2015.
Compliance with the Port Marine Safety Code has been audited twice during the year by the Designated Person and, once again, there are no major problems or nonconformities to report this year. Compliance with the Code has recently been recertified, as required three-yearly by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Following last winter’s storms, some ‘lessons learnt’ guidance was issued to River users and it has been rewarding to note that many owners have taken more robust precautions this winter. Admittedly, the weather has been much less extreme but there have been very few problems to deal with.
On the development front, the highly successful Consents Advice Panel (formerly the Streamlined Consents Group) continues to run. It is recognised nationally as an example of best practice. The Panel is a chance for people wishing to undertake works in the marine environment on the River to meet informally with consenting organisations prior to an application being submitted and marine consents sought. The Harbour Authority also provides one-to-one advice for prospective developers and this service has been used extensively during the year.
There has been a steady flow of applications for Harbour Authority works consent. Work at the Royal Southern Yacht Club and Royal Air Force Yacht Club to rebuild the sea wall, carry out a capital dredge and reconfigure pontoons is almost complete. An application to change the design of the Swanwick Marina lift dock was approved and work has been completed.
Work to rebuild the quay wall at Cabin Boatyard is complete.
There have been numerous applications to install pontoons on pile and fore-and aft moorings at various locations throughout the River. Each of these also requires planning permission and each is considered on its merits from the navigational safety point of view before Harbour Works Consent is granted.
The Warsash slipway improvement project is currently on hold whilst options for a somewhat less ambitious version are considered by the Harbour Board.
Finally, the Harbour Authority’s application for planning permission to extend Hamble Jetty was rejected in July last year but has now been re-submitted with a Visual Impact Assessment and will be considered by Eastleigh Borough Council’s Local Area Committee in June.
Smart Water continues to help with deterring crime on the River and the affect has been very noticeable. Kits are still available from the Harbour Office. Anyone selling Smartwater-marked boats or equipment is reminded to advise Smartwater accordingly.
Following the tragic RIB accident in Padstow, the Harbour Authority has been proactive in campaigning for greater use of kill cords on any boats with an outboard engine. As part of the campaign, floating keyrings have been issued to anyone who wants one, with the words ‘Think Kill Cord’.
Harbour Authority staff have been involved in many River-wide activities, including support for the Annual Harbour Master’s Charity Pursuit Race for dinghies, the Bursledon Regatta and the Hamble River Raid. The annual Crabbing Competition raised ?470 for MacMillan Cancer Support and saw over 100 kids and parents taking part. In response to ever-growing numbers of children crabbing, a free educational activity booklet has been produced. The Harbour Authority also helped with the sponsorship and organisation of the River Hamble Games 2014, which were a great success.
Once again, staff have worked with the Hamble River Combined Clubs on the preparation of the latest edition of the River Hamble Handbook and Directory which was published in February. In addition, a Visitor Guide has been produced, providing specific information for visiting yachtsmen.
Management of the mid-stream moorings and the moorings Waiting List, on behalf of the Crown Estate continues. The waiting list is still very long for most sizes of boat but there have been more than the usual number of surrenders this winter, so there is hope for those who still wait.
Members of staff have given a number of talks and presentations about the management of the harbour at a variety of venues including sailing clubs and a local school.
Staff have been working with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, both on and off the water, to gain an improved understanding of each other’s roles, and to ensure a coordinated and efficient response to any fires on the water.
On the environmental side, it is important that all staff are fully trained, to the required level, for oil spill response, and that equipment stocks are maintained. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency recently carried out a five-yearly audit without any significant problems. Oil spill preparedness came close to being put to the test in January when the car carrier Hoegh Osaka grounded on the Brambles. Fortunately,there was no pollution.
The Harbour Authority’s Port Waste Management Plan which covers all waste facilities at the Harbour Office, marinas and boatyards and Yacht Clubs has been reviewed and successfully approved by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
The Harbour Authority is an active participant in the Solent European Marine Sites Management Group, ensuring that we, along with other Relevant Authorities, exercise our statutory functions in such a way as to ensure that the Solent European Marine Sites are managed appropriately.
Staff also continue to support the work of the Hamble Estuary Partnership (HEP), which continues to lobby for a solution to potential pollution sources relating to the bridges cross the River. The successful student project sponsored this year looked at distribution of invasive plant species on public rights of way adjacent to the Hamble River. Many and varied talks have been presented to the HEP to ensure all members and their representative organisations continue to learn and remain up to date.
Initial steps have been taken towards seeking options for any potential to manage the estuary’s sediment, including re-use of dredged material, in such a way that would be of benefit to mudflat and saltmarsh areas.
The Harbour Board has part-sponsored a PhD student to evaluate the spatial variation in the dissolution of sacrificial anodes in the Solent. His work started before Christmas and will last for three years. A questionnaire has been distributed to mooring holders.
The agreed River Hamble monitoring programme for the ABP dredge of Southampton Water is complete for the time being and ABP’s operation to deepen the main channel is now complete. The purpose of the monitoring was to establish a baseline prior to assessing whether the dredge operation is having any adverse impacts on sedimentation rates in the River.
Finally, and following an initial request from a member of the public, a sound system has been procured by the County Council to enhance the audibility of Harbour Authority meetings.
Overall, it has been a good year and the Harbour Authority can be proud of its efforts to keep the harbour as safe as possible for those who use it.