EA to Enlarge Lydney Docks Marina

The entrance to Lydney docks.
The entrance to Lydney docks.
The inner harbour at Lydney is the site of the proposed marina.
The inner harbour at Lydney is the site of the proposed marina.
Drawing showing one of the proposed development plans for Lydney docks.
Drawing showing one of the proposed development plans for Lydney docks.
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The Environment Agency (EA) in the UK, which is planning a major regeneration effort at Lydney Docks near Gloucester, has increased the size of the marina it is planning to build to help pay for the project, and says it anticipates building a facility with 80-90 berths initially, in phase one of the project, adding another 50-60 berths at a later date.

The town of Lydney in which the docks are to be found is situated adjacent to the West Bank of the Severn Estuary in Gloucestershire. The River Lyd flows through Lydney and enters the Severn Estuary via Lydney Harbour.

The Environment Agency is currently carrying out flood defence works from Lydney to Cone Pill. As part of these works the flood defences need to be upgraded from the one in five year level of service currently provided at Lydney Docks.

As the owner of the docks, the EA has spent a great deal of money on maintaining the physical structure of the docks, but the available funds are not sufficient to prevent the gradual deterioration of the site.

The Environment Agency therefore formed the Lydney Partnership, whose membership includes representatives from the County, District and Town Councils and English Heritage, to investigate ways in which the future of the Docks could be secured.

Project Manager Will Reed said the Partnership has looked at the various options for the docks, both from an economic viewpoint and from the viewpoint of the best way to preserve them. Four different development options incorporating a range of investment levels were developed, resulting in a broad consensus in favour of a relatively high degree of development that will provide an income for the ongoing maintenance of the dock structure.

However, as Reed explained, given the scale of the project it would have been impossible for the Partnership to raise the capital to develop, particularly as Lydney docks have been designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and this, combined with restrictions on development in the floodplain, limits the options that are available.

It has therefore been proposed that Lydney Docks should be developed to attract maritime activities to the site, including a marina, a boatyard and chandlery service, and it was envisaged that this, along with an education centre and cafe, will generate enough revenue to maintain the harbour and its surrounding land permanently.

Without funding it is likely that Lydney Docks would slowly deteriorate to a point beyond repair. Eventually access would have to be restricted as the site became unacceptably dangerous, and could therefore no longer be enjoyed by the public. The EA believes it would be beneficial for the public as well as the site itself if the development could proceed, and thus maintain the dock, which is both historically important and valued for amenity purposes by the local residents.

According to the EA, the surviving remains include: the block-stone outer harbour; lock and quay walls;

steel outer gates; the wooden upstream lock gates; the inner harbour walls; the foundations of the coal tips; the swing bridge at the upstream end of the inner harbour; some wooden and stone buildings; a lime kiln; and ancillary equipment such as mooring bollards, mast and blocks The wooden outer tidal gates were replaced in 1965 with steel gates, which are still operable. In 1997 the wooden flood gates at the downstream end of the inner harbour collapsed, damaging some of the stonework in the process.

These gates are no longer operable, and a clay dam, installed as a temporary measure in the lock, now provides flood protection.

Although the Agency carries out routine day to day maintenance, the condition of some of the structures is poor. The EA does not have the resources available to carry out the major renovation work that would be required to halt further slow decline, which is made more serious by the fact that Lydney and its surrounds are prone to periodic flooding both from the Severn and the Lyd, some of Lydney lying in the flood plain, particularly parts of industrial estates on each side of the Lyd.

A pair of flood-gates was incorporated into the dock structure, and these provided protection against an approximately 'one in five' year flood event. However, in 1997 one of these gates collapsed due to deterioration in the stonework and the gate itself and English Heritage agreed to the temporary installation of a clay dam to the same height as the original gates as an emergency flood protection measure. . .

. . The outer gates can be overtopped by over a metre in extreme high tides and even if the inner gates were in working order flooding could occur and cause damage to property in Lydney. This being the case, the EA intends to increase the level of protection provided by the flood defences across Lydney Harbour in line with the works that are proposed on the Warth lands to the south of the Harbour.

The location and design of the new defences will have an impact on the future use of the Harbour in that the amount of land adjacent to the docks that is unprotected from floods greater than a one in five year return will vary according to where the new defences are sited. Furthermore, the design and position of the floodgates that are required will have an impact on the navigation within the docks.

The EA made a successful Stage 1 application for Heritage Lottery funding for the project last year, enabling it to obtain development funding for the project, and is close to completing an application for Stage 2 funding.

As part of the harbour regeneration project, the EA hopes to build new floodgates a dual purpose as lock gates, plus the marina, car parking and improved access. Initially, it had planned a marina with just 50 berths, but this did not prove to be economically feasible, and a larger marina will now be built between the tidal basin and the inner basin at the docks.

If the project wins Heritage Lottery funding, construction work on the flood gates should start in 2003. Work on the marina and ancillary facilities should start in 2004, in time for the marina to open for the 2005 season, Reed explained.

The EA is proposing to install finger berths and pontoons at the new facility.

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