The Isle of Man Shipping Association warmly welcomes the Department of Infrastructure’s Harbours Strategy which we see as a step forward in recognising that the major commercial port of Douglas is not future proof when considering ever increasing sizes of ferry, tanker, supply, leisure and cruise vessels.
As is broadly recognised in the Harbours Strategy, it is our view that currently, Douglas does not provide sufficient long term strategic resilience for the Island and also agree that economic opportunities from the Island’s ports are not being maximised.
We have some concerns about the feasibility of deepening the port outside the Victoria Pier and of the size of the area to be deepened. There is concern on the likely high ongoing maintenance costs required for continual dredging if it is deepened, which should be included in the overall scheme and costings. We also have concerns about achieving depths of 9m being proposed in the inner harbour for the new oil/cement berth.
Given the concerns, we consider it essential that a larger outer harbour scheme is included within the engineering consultant’s scope of work to determine its feasibility and associated costs, in order that all options can be considered with accurate and detailed information to determine the best long term solution for the Islands gateway port.
We need to ensure that given the magnitude of the costings of the proposed works, to make good the current port within its existing limitations and which only offers a short to medium term solution, we do not miss the opportunity to invest in a future proof port which will benefit the Island’s long term development.
This is infrastructure that will potentially last for over 100 years and should be viewed with a long term strategy in mind.
We welcome the proposals for the Department to take over responsibility for Ramsey shipyard, to stimulate rejuvenation of marine engineering and maintenance capacity to provide economic and employment opportunities, within a marine service centre.
We also welcome the proposals to once again look at the Southern Ports to develop the marine leisure sector. The Harbours Strategy could be stronger in reference to development of facilities for the fishing industry, where we see further economic opportunities.
The Isle of Man Shipping Association can support the Harbours Strategy provided that within the Douglas proposals, further outer harbour engineering studies are also included in the engineering and environmental feasibility phase in order to ensure all information and options are available to allow an informed decision to be made for the long term strategic benefit of the Isle of Man.
The Isle of Man Shipping Association remains committed to working with and supporting the Government in key maritime strategic decisions.
Lars Ugland & Russell Kent
On behalf of the Executive Committee, Isle of Man Shipping Association