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May 7 2015.

Haven News has received a number of emails relating to a recently published Newhaven Harbour Revision Order Application. The main concern from Haven residents has been that this application would have a negative impact upon the public use of the beach to the East of the harbour, but the various official documents attached to the Application are somewhat confusing to those outside the marine or legal professions.

Haven News asked Newhaven Harbour Master, Dave Collins-Williams, to give us the stripped-down, simplified version of what this Newhaven Harbour Revision Order Application is all about.

“Quite honestly there is nothing for Haven residents to worry about. The Application has nothing whatsoever to do with any proposed port developments.

“Basically the Newhaven Harbour Revision Order Application concerns the actual users of the port and aims to update the authority of NPP to manage the port in a safe and efficient manner and give us the ‘Power of General Directions’. Basically that means the authority to police the movements within the area of the port.

“The legislation currently covering the port actually dates back to 1863 and although there have been some modifications to this over the years, we needed to completely update that legislation and bring it into the 21st century as advised by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency as being best practice.

“The current Harbour Limits, meaning the area where we have authority to give directions to any vessel for safety reasons, were set in 1878. This area covers all the water at high tide from just North of the incinerator down to a line from just off the West Breakwater Lighthouse across to The Buckle. This means we currently have no authority to enforce a clear and safe approach to, or exit from, the harbour.

“Of course we can, and do, repeatedly request all commercial, leisure and private vessels not to anchor or impede the passage of commercial traffic in that vital approach and exit zone, but again, we have no authority to enforce it. Needless to say, some vessels still ignore our requests and then panic when the Ferry is bearing down on them blasting its horn!

“So, we needed to extend our area of authority for obvious safety reasons, not just for the current level of port traffic, but also for future increases in traffic.

“At the same time as we have been planning this revised area of authority, a Marine Conservation Zone has been implemented covering the whole coast from low tide to half a mile out to sea from Beachy Head through to Brighton. This meant that we had to negotiate an exclusion zone for our proposed extended area of authority and I am happy to say that we have been successful in being granted that exclusion zone by Defra." 

Thanks to NPP and Dave Collins-Williams for taking the time to cut through the legalese and explain the marine terminology to us in easy to understand terms.