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Experts set to get cracking on wall plan; Pier no longer out of bounds after repairs.

Byline: Brian Daniel

EXPERTS have been appointed to come up with innovative ideas for the future of a damaged North East harbour. Part of the harbour wall at Amble, Northumberland, was gouged out by water pressure in the flooding of September 2008 and cracks appeared at ground level.

An area of the harbour was sealed off, and remains so, while the town's pier was closed and an ice plant used by fishermen had to be moved.

Stabilisation works were carried out while the full extent of the damage was calculated.

The figure was eventually put at pounds 1m and the Warkworth Harbour Commissioners were dealt a major blow when their insurers refused to cover the cost of repairs.

Applications were made for DEFRA and Environment Agency money but as yet the funding has not been found.

Now, The Journal has learnt, consultant GVA Grimley has been appointed to produce a feasibility study on the harbour wall and the way forward.

The consultant has been appointed with around pounds 30,000 funding from regional development agency One North-East, obtained by Amble Development Trust, which is working with the commissioners, Northumberland County Council and Northumberland Tourism.

Given the difficulties of securing funding, the consultant has been given a brief to come up with innovative solutions which are more likely to attract attention. It is hoped the report will be complete by the end of next month and will then inform a bid for funding.

Commissioners spokesman Dr Paul Morrison said: "We need to be forward thinking and innovative about repairing it because funding is difficult to come by these days with the recession.

"We are looking to have consultants on board to give advice on that."

Trust executive director David Milburn added: "It is not just a question of rebuilding, we have got to look at what might benefit the town in terms of constructing something.

"Does it need to be more than a harbour wall? Is it an opportunity out of an economic disaster? "There are many factors around having a non-viable harbour wall. It detracts from visiting the town."

Meanwhile, the pier recently re-opened following completion of work on what is being regarded as a temporary solution.

As previously reported by The Journal, the development trust provided pounds 20,000 to the commissioners for the creation of a bridge and steps.

This meant the pier, which was only accessible from the damaged area of harbour, could be reached from the neighbouring Little Shore.

Work took four to six weeks and involved putting in secure foundations and making sure the bridge fitted in with the design of the pier.

The pier is popular with locals and visitors alike - particularly dog walkers and fishermen - and its closure on health and safety grounds had caused unrest in the town.

Dr Morrison added: "It is great news. Although Amble harbour is a working harbour, the harbour authority do try their best to accommodate the community.

It is open and available to the public to wander round and enjoy, thank goodness!" The ice plant has also returned, in a new location further along the harbour.

CAPTION(S):

ROUGH STUFF The kind of treatment Amble is subjected to by the North Sea, this in April this year. SPLITTING HEADACHE Cracks appeared at Amble Harbour.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 26, 2009
Words:548
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