Outer Harbour inquiry ‘as soon as March 2013’

An inquiry into the controversial �80m outer harbour project could be held as soon as March, a government document shows.

A dozen parties have already made representations to the planning inspectorate, demonstrating the level of interest.

However some of these 'have since been withdrawn' for reasons that have not been stated.

The inquiry - brought by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) - will look at the outer harbour's revision order application, made in January 2010.

This involved the handover from the public Great Yarmouth Port Authority to the private Great Yarmouth Port Company, and changes to the port authority board.

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Main concerns have been outlined ahead of the hearing, and they centre on the 'suitability' of a private company running a former trust port.

Questions have also been raised over the division of responsibility between the public port authority and the private port company.

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And campaigners fear a harbour revision order may not be the most 'appropriate mechanism' by which to transfer power.

The precise format of the inquiry has been left to the government planning inspector.

Campaigners have asked that the selected inspector has experience of orders made under the Harbours Act 1964. Any pre-inquiry meeting would be held at the discretion of the inspector, and two months have been earmarked for the inquiry - March and April 2013.

It is not known how long the inquiry would run for, and the venue is also yet to be confirmed.

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