Great Yarmouth Port Company could face legal action over beach erosion after losing High Court bid to become port authority

PUBLISHED: 17:58 25 March 2014 | UPDATED: 17:58 25 March 2014

The first day of Great Yarmouth's outer harbour inquiry at the town hall.
Eliza O'Toole, vice chairman of the GYPC.
April 2013.

Picture: James Bass

The first day of Great Yarmouth's outer harbour inquiry at the town hall. Eliza O'Toole, vice chairman of the GYPC. April 2013. Picture: James Bass

(C) Archant Norfolk 2013

The holiday company behind Haven and Butlins has said it will take action to claw back the cost of repairing erosion-hit Hopton beach after the port company it believes is responsible lost a High Court battle.

The Great Yarmouth Port Company (GYPC), which operates the outer harbour on the east cost, is already likely to face substantial legal costs after a High Court judge backed the Marine Management Organisation’s (MMO) decision not to hand the private company extra powers.

And now, in light of that ruling, Bourne Leisure - which runs Hopton Holiday Village and has publicly blamed the outer harbour for speeding up coastal erosion at Hopton - has announced plans to pursue its own legal action.

Today a spokesman said: “We are happy with Mr Justice Cranston’s ruling and are very surprised that the Judicial Review was even pursued by Ms O’Toole and her company.

“Our legal team is now concentrating on pursuing our claim for the substantial erosion of the beach at Hopton.

“We hope to be in a position very soon to pursue those that our expert coastal process advisor has advised us are responsible for the damage caused to Hopton and the destruction of this beautiful part of the English coastline.”

Bourne Leisure has spent £3m on protecting and repairing Hopton’s crumbling coast and was last week granted planning permission for a further £7m of work to install rock sea defences.

The company was among the opponents who spoke out against GYPC’s bid to become Yarmouth’s official harbour authority during a public inquiry last April. Locals had already accused the £80m port, privatised in 2007, of failing to deliver on promises of jobs and a ferry link-up with Holland.

GYPC claimed complicated control of the port - the Great Yarmouth Port Authority (GYPA) still sets annual tariffs and employs harbour pilots - was hampering growth of the business and, together with GYPA, applied for a Harbour Revision Order (HRO) to take over those statutory functions.

The MMO rejected the application. GYPC appealed, describing the MMO ruling as ‘irrational’ but it is that Judicial Review which Mr Justice Cranston turned down at the Royal Courts of Justice in London earlier this month.

Responding to the ruling, the port company’s deputy chairman Eliza O’Toole responded to the ruling and said: “Whilst disappointing, the decision changes nothing.

“We will in due course review our options however it remains business as usual at the port where we continue to serve our existing customers and working to attract others too.”

She did not comment on Bourne Leisure’s possible action.

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