Row erupts over dredging of silted up Watchet marina

Article Image
The marina is so full of mud boats cannot float at low tide

Posted December 5, 2019

A row has broken out over who should be responsible for dredging a silted up marina in Somerset.

Boat owners have said Watchet harbour has become so full of mud boats have been unable to float at low tide, and it was costing the local economy hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Operator, Watchet Harbour Marina, said it recognised a dredge was required and it "needed to work" with the council.

Somerset West and Taunton Council said it was "exploring solutions".

Image caption The marina has not been fully dredged since it opened in 2001

Martin Stevens, of the Watchet Boat Owners Association, said between 80,000 and 100,000 tonnes of mud needed to be dredged out of the marina, at a cost of about £250,000.

He said it had not had a full depth dredge since it opened in 2001 and its condition had caused boats to stop visiting.

"The impact on the economics of Watchet is horrendous," Mr Stevens said.

"The amount of income that a marina can get from boat owners is in the region of £10,000 - £18,000 per boat per year."

The inner and outer harbour are both owned by Somerset West and Taunton Council.

The council also operates the outer harbour while the inner harbour is operated by Watchet Harbour Marina.

Mr Stevens said a condition in the lease agreement stated the company was responsible for dredging.

Watchet Harbour Marina said a water injection dredger had been installed for "ongoing maintenance and to reduce the level of mud back to where it retains water in the inner harbour".

"However, we recognise the need for a capital dredge right down to the bedrock of both the inner (marina) and outer harbour, which the council is aware of," it said.

"This is in process and we need to work together on this."

A council spokesperson said a "collaborative approach" would be the best way to resolve the issues and said it was continuing "to work with partners and the community to explore solutions".