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Pz Harbour Options - Skirmish!

posted Feb 11, 2012, 8:43 PM by Richard Cliffe   [ updated Feb 11, 2012, 8:43 PM ]

The unanimity that has existed so far over the identification of harbour options was broken yesterday with John Maggs quoted in Western Morning News 'knocking' Penzance Town Council's effort.  The item has been published online at the link below.......



Any uninformed person reading the quotes would be thoroughly mislead.

The ‘alternatives’ John Maggs refers to are simply explorations of the costs of Option 6A (£19m), Albert Pier, to see how far you can reduce costs before the option becomes undesirable or untenable.  The more extreme pruning created two variants costed at £9m and £11m (plus £1.5m each for a watersports centre).  It is highly unlikely that these variants would be operationally acceptable because they are operationally worse than today regarding tidal restrictions of vessel movement and freight loading.  Albert Pier would have less depth of water than the South Pier does today.

Dealing with the specific claims:

There were “2 two potentially viable alternatives”. 

This is not correct.  They are not viable financially or operationally.  Both alternatives require a minimum of £3 million in dredging costs leaving only £1m from the DfT budget available for match funding with ERDF (total budget £5 million based upon a favourable 50/50 match funding).  The £1.5 m for a new watersports centre appears unfundable by either DfT and ERDF. This leaves a shortfall of either £5.5 m or £7.5m.  Because even after dredging, Albert Pier would still be shallower than South Pier is today, these low cost variants, when re-scored, would score poorly if not excluded altogether as operationally unacceptable.

That the Albert Pier option is consigned to the dustbin because of a £19 m price tag (when really there were viable variants at near half the price). 

 All the other Albert Pier options were consigned to the ‘dustbin’ earlier because they did not score well against less ambitious projects given the severe money and time constraints.  Only the £16.3m variant of Option 6A (with reduced reclaim land area) has comparable performance.  The process highlighted that an attractive Albert Pier option was unaffordable.  It also highlighted that Albert Pier was high risk.  Reducing the cost of expensive elements made them less attractive or operationally questionable without making them affordable.

£8m pot earmarked for any development

The budget should read £4m DfT budget with possibly up to a further £4m in ERDF match funding for eligible spending.  Dredging is not eligible for match funding and the Albert Pier (any option) requires not less than £3m and realistically a lot more.  This leaves only £1 m for ERDF match funding.

Penzance not should assume it is owed any favours by the ERDF funders.  The assumed 50/50 intervention rate is higher than the previous RP scheme’s 32/68. 

Albert Pier “remains enormously popular because it is adjacent to Penzance bus and train stations. 

Most people realise that Albert Pier is not the panacea zealots make it out be and this was reflected in the show of hands at the Option Review Public Meeting on 17 Nov 11.  At this meeting an impromptu vote was called looking for support for options to focus on the Albert Pier only.  Wiser heads prevailed and of those that voted (a lot did not) the majority wanted all options considered (ratio 2 to 1 or better).  The bus station is an irrelevance to most ferry passengers and train times mean that few arrive by train and go direct to the ferry.  Enthusiasts for Albert Pier solutions assume otherwise or have an interest in getting the IOSSCo freight/passenger operation out of the wet dock area.

Two alternatives for Albert Pier have since been worked up at a cost of £9m or £11m. 

This is incorrect.  The £9m and £11m alternatives have not been “worked up”.  They are demonstrations that Option 6A becomes untenable if costs are reduced.  These options would be severely operationally constrained by tides and one require dangerous vehicles operations on Albert Pier.

Given the facts and the constraints, pursuing an Albert Pier option would be perceived as reckless, unjustifiable  and an abdication of the Town Council’s responsibility create a deliverable proposal to sustain a vital service to the Isles of Scilly.  Recommending an undeliverable Albert Pier option would be seen as playing to the crowd and a snub to the Department of Transport. It is not surprising that the Penzance Harbour Scheme Management Board appears to want to avoid this path.