Cowes Harbour Commission
Harbour Authority & Marine Services
Newsletter 20th August 2020
Consultation on Harbour Proposals Suspended to 2021
The Commissioners and I would like to thank all harbour stakeholders for their feedback and engagement on the public consultation, which has created some important conversations on Cowes and East Cowes. After full consideration, Commissioners have decided to suspend the consultation until next year. Please see our press release below for more details.

Meanwhile, CHC has been in discussions with Isle of Wight Fuels, our leaseholders at Kingston Wharf, about the future of their operations and also with the Isle of Wight Council and MP Bob Seely with regard to endeavouring to ensure the supply of fuel to the Island. 

Our marine services team has recently replaced both the East Cardinal mark EC3 and the yellow special mark EC9 in the Eastern Channel with green starboard channel marks. These changes make for improved consistency in the Eastern Channel buoyage and full information can be found in Local Notice to Mariners No. 29 of 2020.

I would also like to highlight our E-news article below on the very real dangers of swimming in the harbour and where it is prohibited, as well as a new poster we are promulgating that emphasises the most important rules (General Directions) for harbour users to be aware of. These will be backed up by new safety signage that will soon be installed at key locations around the harbour.

Capt. Stuart McIntosh - Cowes Harbour Master
Press Release - CHC suspends public consultation until 2021
Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) launched a public consultation this summer to ascertain stakeholders’ initial views about a potential combining of CHC with Cowes Town Waterfront Trust (CTWT) and a possible application to the Charity Commission, among other proposals. The initial deadline for public comment was 3rd August 2020 and a large amount of feedback has been received, including a general request for more information. 

CHC would like to thank everyone for their feedback to date, sent in individually, via groups or through the CHAC (Cowes Harbour Advisory Committee). After careful consideration of all comments received, the Commissioners agreed at a Board meeting on 12th August to suspend further public consultation, allowing time for detailed consideration of the views received. 

As a Trust Port, CHC has a duty to ensure all stakeholders have sufficient time to give their views during a consultation and originally, an extension to October was granted to enable further public comment. The Commissioners will now suspend the consultation and will review the position in 2021 based on the situation at the time, with a possibility of restarting the public consultation. 

The priority for CHC is the safety of the harbour, however, the publically stated vision of CHC includes ‘for Cowes Harbour and the River Medina to fulfil their potential in delivering first-class port facilities and leisure services’. To enable this, CHC undertakes commercial activities in order to be self-financing, as is expected of Trust Ports, and any surplus funds raised through its activities are reinvested back into the harbour and its facilities, to the benefit of its harbour users, or ‘stakeholders’.

For reference, the link to the original consultation process can be found on the CHC website:
Dangers of swimming and diving in the harbour
Cowes Harbour is one of the busiest leisure ports in the UK and consequently, it is an extremely dangerous place to swim. The harbour is also a busy commercial port with very frequent ferry traffic as well as large commercial shipping transiting up and down the River Medina.

Cowes is a tidal harbour and regularly experiences strong tidal currents of up to 4 knots (4.6 mph) or over, particularly in the narrowest part of the river where the Chain Ferry operates. Any person(s) in the water could easily be swept away by the tide and swimmers are virtually undetectable to commercial ships.

For safety reasons therefore, swimming within the waterways (fairways) in Cowes Harbour and in any areas around or from mooring or berthing facilities is prohibited, as is jumping or diving into the water from any structure, bridge, wall, pile, pontoon, jetty, pier or buoy within the harbour. These prohibited activities are legislated under Cowes Harbour General Direction 4.4 and those found guilty of an offence in court are liable to a fine of up to £2,500.

Handy guide to harbour rules
There is an easy way to get to know the most important rules of the harbour (General Directions) with our new poster of Cowes Harbour Dos and Don'ts.

Our Patrol Officers are giving out handy Dos and Don’ts flyers to anyone who is stopped on the water as part of our education on safety.

Test yourself and see how many of the rules you know.

Please help to spread the message about these top rules to know when you are using Cowes Harbour to help keep everyone safe. Thank you.

Environment and sustainability update
CHC is working to further develop its relationship with the Isle of Wight Estuaries Partnership and move to a more project-based approach. To do this, we will be refocussing the work of our Estuaries Officer into a number of key project areas for the next 12 to 18 months. The key project areas are as follows:

- Environment and water quality
- Sustainable dredging and WID trial
- Coastal defence
- Boating: environmental awareness raising