Ship wash fears may lead to pier closure

For many years it has provided a bracing view of the North Sea and been a base for hopeful anglers. But now a Norfolk pier could be doomed because of the arrival of giant container ships at a new harbour.

For many years it has provided a bracing view of the North Sea and been a base for hopeful anglers.

But now a Norfolk pier could be doomed because of the arrival of giant container ships at a new harbour. Speculation is rife that Gorleston's south pier will be closed to the public because 200m vessels entering the Outer Harbour in Yarmouth could create dangerous washes which could sweep people into the sea.

Harbour owner East Port UK hopes to have the £50m site up and running by 2009 and it is believed that health and safety concerns over powerful waves swamping the pier may mean sightseers and anglers will be banned from the area.

The potential plans to block off the pier, its car park and parts of West Quay surfaced during a meeting of residents and borough councillors in Gorleston on Monday in which an impassioned plea was issued to spruce up the town's ailing seafront.


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But instead of being told that money would be pumped into renovating the pier area, 20 members of the public were shocked to hear that parts of the popular coastal attraction may no longer be made accessible to them instead.

Resident Norman Ward, who demanded the pier area be tidied up, said it would be better for the town if the area was regenerated.

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Tom Harrison, member of a residents' group, said: “It would be a tremendous blow if the pier closed as a lot of people have got very attached to it over the years.”

The Outer Harbour will create about 1,000 jobs and it is expected that towering ships carrying up to 500 containers and a roll-on, roll-off passenger ferry service to Holland will regularly use the port.

Eddie Freeman, chief executive of East Port UK, said he would not comment on any plans to shut off the pier to the public once the harbour starts operating.

Barry Coleman, leader of Yarmouth Borough Council, said that although he thought 99pc of health and safety regulations were unnecessary, he understood the need to prevent the public going near the new harbour in case they were killed and injured by a wash.

The borough council has admitted it does not have any long-term strategy for developing the rest of Gorleston's seafront, although its beach huts will have to make way for vital sea defences.

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