Cowes Harbour Commission : News Update


The consents process to take the Outer Harbour Project forward to its next stage is currently under way following this Summer’s well-attended exhibition held in East Cowes and the detailed presentations made to representatives of all the Cowes yacht clubs, marine/ sailing and major stakeholder organisations.

At the Commission’s latest Board meeting held last week, the application from SEEDA (the South East England Development Agency) for a Harbour Works and Dredge licence was considered and unanimously agreed.

The Commission has received neither objection nor adverse comment in respect to the scheme and has therefore approved the granting of the licence on the issues of navigation. However the granting of the licence is still subject to consideration of advice in respect to compliance with the European Habitats Directive from the agreed lead agency, The Marine Fisheries Agency.

Full details of the application have been advertised on the Harbour Commission’s section of its web site at

It is important to stress that the Commission’s powers only extend to issues of safety of navigation and public rights of navigation.

The Harbour Works consent is one of three permissions required for the Project, the others being:

· Consent under the Food & Environment Protection Act, issued by the Marine and Fisheries Agency;
· Planning Permission from the Isle of Wight Council.

Now that the consents process is well underway, SEEDA intends to start the delivery phase with the first element being the procurement of a Development Partner. SEEDA will carry out this process under European regulations in respect to tendering for public work contracts (O.J.E.U). The development partner will be expected to deliver both the harbour infrastructure and the commercial element (i.e. the new marina) of the scheme.

SEEDA will include in the tender proposal full details of the ‘Offer’ together with information on the maximum funding assistance from SEEDA and Cowes Harbour Commission towards the construction of the harbour infrastructure components; the detached outer breakwater, extension to Shrape Breakwater and dredging of the new eastern channel.

SEEDA have indicated that this process will commence in October and be completed by February 2010.


A new Harbour Commissioner, Jeremy Lear, has been co-opted to the Board of Cowes Harbour Commission.
The Commissioners invited Jeremy Lear to be co-opted for a period up to 12 months owing to his extensive experience and knowledge of marine developments and funding both from the private and public sector, an extremely valuable resource during the Commission’s dealings with the Outer Harbour Project.  Jeremy was a senior partner with Vail Williams Chartered Surveyors but he is now retired and is active in sailing organisations in the Solent.


One of the communication initiatives agreed by the Commissioners earlier this year was to approach stakeholder organisations to determine the interest in revitalising the Cowes Harbour Advisory Committee.

The background
In 2001 Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) modernised its constitution as recommended by the government and promoted a Harbour Revision Order.

The main constitutional change was moving from a Representative Board to an Independent Board.

The Commission also introduced an Advisory Board and decided this should comprise representation from the various stakeholder groups from the previous constitution. This Advisory Body convened twice a year and was managed by Cowes Harbour Commission.

Regrettably, this group wasn’t pro-active and after three years the committee members agreed to convene only if there was a major issue raised for consideration by one of its members.

During the last 18 months, the Commission has been aware of attempts by some quarters to promote the interests of lobby groups. The Commissioners have supported the principle of User Groups based on constructive dialogue and consultation.

It was therefore proposed to encourage the re-formation of an advisory body based on user groups / stakeholder groups being represented on an advisory committee that will meet four times a year. The user groups would be encouraged to have a standing CHC item for discussion on their regular agendas.

The Commissioners agreed that various stakeholder groups would be approached to determine the interest in this group by their members. These included, but were not limited to, the following:

§ Cowes River Club Association
§ Cowes Joint Clubs and Day boat Class Association.
§ Cowes Marine Cluster
§ Town Councils East / West
§ Business Associations / C.B.A
§ Newport Harbour Authority
§ Red Funnel Group
§ Commercial Wharf Operators

The first meeting of the newly formed Advisory Committee was well attended and very positive. The Committee has appointed David Walters, representing Cowes Town Council, to be the Chairman of the new group. The first meeting considered the remit, objectives, and representation and a second working meeting developed a draft constitution for consideration by the Commissioners at their September meeting. Further consultation with the Advisory Committee is taking place in order to agree the constitution before the end of November 2009.


Byelaw Enforcements
69 vessels received verbal warnings in August regarding various byelaw infringements, namely speeding, excessive wash and lack of navigation lights. One vessel was followed up with a written warning.

CHC’s three yearly incident management exercise will take place on Wednesday September 30th that will test the Harbour’s Oil Spill Management Plan when responding to a Tier 2 incident and will involve external agencies such as the Environment Agency, Fisheries Agency, Natural England, Isle of Wight Council, Adler and Allan (Tier 2 contractor), MCA, Whittaker Tankers and BP.

Boatyard news
In mid August all Kingston Marine Services (KMS) customers and interested parties were sent details of the winter storage and services provided at the KMS site. The response has been excellent so far with many bookings taken.

Shepards Wharf Marina
Cowes Week was very successful with excellent feedback given for the Shepards Wharf Marina onshore facilities and setup including the new food outlet / Crew Bar / Evening entertainment and Manuel’s restaurant.

Shepards Wharf Marina was fully booked for Cowes Week and everyone on the waiting list was accommodated throughout the CHC mooring areas. Boat numbers were overall the same as last year but didn’t host as many corporate visitors as in previous years. A number of permanent berths were also utilised by kind permission of the owners.

Booked rallies have continued well through August and September and the Little Britain Challenge Cup weekend was particularly busy with the Marina full throughout the period with other overnight stays being allocated berths at Venture Quays.

Dry Sailing is continuing to be booked through October for the Autumn Series and the turnout is expected to be high for the Etchells National and British Open Championship over two weekends during the month.


The planning and building regulations consents have been granted for the refurbishment and improvements to the Harbour Office. The only modification to the scheme considered by the Commissioners is that the cladding will now be treated stained timber as opposed to the mock timber cladding constructed from concrete. The reason for this change was due to the construction in a conservation area.

Work is scheduled to commence in week commencing Monday 5th October with completion prior to Christmas. It is proposed to continue normal work from the Harbour Office and it is hoped to keep disruption to a minimum.

For all the latest news from Cowes Harbour Commission, and the latest OHP Video, log on to:

– ends –

Notes to Editors

  • Cowes is a Trust Port constituted by Act of Parliament in 1897 and has a Board of Commissioners with day-to-day operation delegated to the Harbour Master/Chief Executive to manage the harbour.
  • Cowes Harbour Commission is the statutory harbour authority for Cowes Harbour. The Commission also provides services and moorings for harbour users on a competitive and commercial basis.
  • In 2001, CHC carried out significant changes as recommended by the Government in its Trust Ports Review. The aim of the new standard is to ensure that Trust Ports perform a valuable role in support of the local, regional and national economy and provide a benchmark for good governance, accountability, and openness.
  • The Commission is a self-financing, not for profit organisation that aims to make an operating surplus to reinvest into the continuing development of the harbour and associated services. There are no shareholders or owners and all operating surplus is re-invested back into the harbour for the benefit of the harbour users and stakeholders.
  • The Commission operates a robust financial management system to provide transparency and accountability in respect of the Commission’s dual functions as the statutory harbour authority and also a service provider. All income and expenditure is budgeted and accounted in five separate ring fenced cost centres which facilitates accurate reporting.

Media Enquiries:
Peta Stuart-Hunt
CHC Communications Officer
T: +44 (0) 1590 679 621
M: +44 (0) 7711 477 707


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