March 8 2014 Latest news:
By alex hurrell
Monday, December 2, 2013
An investigation is under way in north Norfolk to try and stop picturesque Blakeney being cut off from the sea.
The channel linking Blakeney Harbour, Blakeney Quay and Blakeney Point has become so silted up that it is completely inaccessible on small tides.
At other times it has become so narrow that passing boats are in real danger of colliding, according to a sailing expert.
Now Blakeney Parish Council is spearheading a probe, supported by other interested parties, looking at the possible dredging of the channel to make it safer for boats and to keep open the village’s link with the sea.
The channel was last dredged more than 25 years ago, according to David Woodcock, spokesman for Blakeney Dinghy Park Management Committee.
“Since then a section of the channel has moved quite significantly westwards and got very much narrower,” he said.
“As the tide goes out it leaves a very narrow channel. There are sailing boats tacking and power boats in amongst them and we realised it was becoming very dangerous, with the risk of injury,” he added.
“If it’s allowed to continue it’s going to cut off the quay from the sea over the next 10 years and what would Blakeney be like then? It would be severely detrimental to its trade.”
Mr Woodcock estimated that in high summer there were at least 1,000 boats in the inner harbour area.
The investigation, costing just under £10,000, is being paid for with a grant from the Sheringham Shoal Community Fund. It is being carried out by ecological consultants The Landscape Partnership and marine engineering firm Land and Water Services. Results are expected before Christmas.
Parish council chairman Tony Faulkner said: “Boating in all its forms is important to the economy of the village and the channel has become so narrow and dangerous that we feel that steps must be taken to improve the situation.
“The team undertaking the work has expertise in the environmental issues that have to be safeguarded.” It was very important to protect the area’s fragile eco-systems.
Mr Woodcock said that if the work was to go ahead, they would need to raise about £60,000. Natural England had advised that the best time for dredging would be in the early autumn in order to cause as little disturbance as possible, between the spring and autumn, migrations to the area’s rich and important bird life.