Posted on April 20, 2017
WATCHET’S tourist industry is being hampered by the rising level of mud in the harbour, particularly in the outer harbour, councillors were warned at their annual town meeting on Tuesday (April 11).
Local resident Sam Westmacott, previously involved in several studies into the state of the harbour, told the meeting that, although £2.5 million had been spent on dredging since Watchet marina opened in 2001, the state of the outer harbour was particularly worrying.
“It has been estimated that 70 per cent of mud entering the marina comes from the outer harbour and only if this is dealt with is there a chance that mud in the marina can be kept under control,” Mrs Westmacott said.
She added: “Watchet has done a fantastic job in using the marina to its advantage to attract tourists. But now all this is being hampered by the level of mud in the harbour.”
Mrs Westmacott said she was “deeply concerned” by statements by district council environment portfolio holder Cllr Martin Dewdney that the council would not be taking steps to clear the outer harbour.
In reply, town council chairman Cllr Peter Murphy told her: “I can assure you that there are discussions afoot to deal with the mud issue.”
Cllr Dave Westcott added that a new Watchet and Minehead harbour board had recently been created and he believed steps were being taken to carry out work on the outer harbour: “But the district council can’t spend money it hasn’t got.”
Cllr Westcott said that was why he was supporting the formation of a new council with Taunton Deane: “Maybe then more money will be available for projects like this.”
Cllr Sally de Renzy-Martin, chairman of Watchet Harbour Advisory Committee, said: “We have talked about mud at every meeting year after year. There was talk about dredging both the outer and inner harbours at the same time.
“The committee has nagged and nagged about this but we are always told ‘We can’t afford it’.”
District councillor Rosemary Woods told the meeting she understood the West Somerset council had a legal duty to keep the outer harbour open.