Brightlingsea Town Council is pressing ahead with an initiative to create a heritage pier and quay on the Hard where townsfolk and visitors can once again enjoy the sight of traditional sailing craft and hold community events close to the water’s edge. It is an ambitious scheme by any local council standards with funding and engineering feasibility at the top of the list.

Like so many local capital projects, the funding for the pier construction has attracted controversy amongst residents, some who fear that it is being built for the sole use of fishing vessels. This myth has arisen because the Council was awarded a grant by the EMFF (European Maritime and Fisheries Fund) through the MMO (Marine Maritime Organisation). Apart from helping fisherman to adapt to sustainable methods, secondary activities of the EMFF are to support coastal communities in the form of heritage and tourism. They seek to finance projects that improve the quality of coastal life and encourage aquaculture development.

Initially priority will be given to fishing vessels, but as soon as risk levels allow the pier will be open to the public and other craft can tie up to it subject to permission from the Harbour Office. It is difficult to put a fixed date on these developments but the aspiration is to facilitate public use as soon as practicable.

The EMFF is contributing 75% to the £100,000 pier project costs with £25,000 coming from the Council. This will be funded from the £54,000 compensation paid to BTC by HM Land Registry for wrongful advice given in 2005. Exploratory, development, and design costs have been minimal as the technical steering committee is made up of volunteer local experts led by a retired Arup consultant with vast global infrastructure experience.

Despite reference to the original Naval drawings and a physical exploration of the area (in order to define the geography of the concrete plinth that lays below the mud), the concrete was found by the piling barge to be far more extensive and thicker than recorded or reasonably expected. With the bird breeding season fast approaching, piling at the seaward end had to be postponed and mud anchorages using railway carriage wheels are being used as a temporary solution to the problems encountered. Piles were driven in as planned at the top end. The operators will return in November to complete the piling using the appropriate drill ends to cut through the concrete.

The pontoons have been ordered and will be installed by late June/ early July. The steering committee will then press on with the design of the multi-purpose quay and start the process of seeking funding for this community project.

Cllr Graham Chasney
Tourism & Communications

14 May 2021

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