Grant bid for Wells fishermen

RICHARD PARR The North Norfolk fishing industry is set for a triple boost aimed at taking it into the 21st century. Major improvement schemes, costing millions of pounds, are in the pipeline for King's Lynn, Wells and Brancaster.

RICHARD PARR

The North Norfolk fishing industry is set for a triple boost aimed at taking it into the 21st century.

Major improvement schemes, costing millions of pounds, are in the pipeline for King's Lynn, Wells and Brancaster.

But at the same time, fishermen have expressed fears over the future of their livelihoods in the face of government support for a call to ban shellfish growers from using sirens to scare growing numbers of eider duck from Wash mussel beds.

The new projects, set to attract government funding, will have a dual purpose in improving facilities for fishermen and providing new tourist attractions.

The fishing community at Wells is the latest port in line for a massive grant to fund major improvements to the town's east quay but is facing an anxious wait for news on the success of its application.

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An application has been submitted to Defra (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) for up to 50 per cent of the £325,000 cost of improving facilities for fishermen and for visitors.

The town's Harbour Commissioners, supported by Wells Area Partnership, Wells and District Fishermen's Association and the town council, have drawn up plans to breath new life into the old working fisherman's area.

As part of the scheme, loading and unloading facilities will be constructed for fishermen and two viewing windows in a new structure will allow tourists to watch fishermen land and unload their catches. Plans also include freezer holding tanks where stocks of freshly landed velvet crabs can be stored.

Harbour master Bob Smith said such up-to-date facilities should help sustain the working fishermen's way of life for the next 15 to 20 years.

A public meeting at The Maltings in Wells is being held on October 25 at 7.30pm when up-dated information will be given about the plans.

The proposed development, which will need planning consent, comes at a time when fishing facilities at both King's Lynn and Brancaster are also in line for a badly needed injection of cash to carrying out improvements.

At Lynn, a £4 million scheme would see the town's quayside modernised and extended and the traditional old Fisher Fleet refurbished.

King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council officers are hoping to win funding for the East of England Development Agency and the European Union while the authority itself is willing to commit around £600,000.

Plans have also been unveiled for a new £250,000 quay, backed by the National Trust, at Brancaster following a rising demand for seafood.