New jetty approved for Oxen Cove

A new 60 metre long jetty in Brixham that will allow the fishing port to expand to keep up with demand has been unanimously backed by planners.

The £1m, 8m wide, 60m long jetty from Oxen Cove Car Park, would be used by several businesses, but in particular by Offshore Shellfish Ltd, the company behind a mega mussel farm planned for the area.

Councillors on the Torbay Council Development Management Committee recently heard the port needed the jetty to support the rapidly growing shellfish industry and would have £7.38m of economic benefits, and if not approved, could see vessels turned away from Brixham as there is no space for them to land.

Speaking in favour of the scheme, Adam Parnell, the Tor Bay Harbour Master, said: “The site we have in Brixham has grown to the point that it is at capacity. There is no further room within the fishing basin for expansion and we are already almost having to turn vessels away for the port as every bit of space is required as the site will see 40 per cent of the whole UK mussel landing within the next three to five years.

“This is being done as we are at capacity and if we want Brixham to thrive, we have to do this, as otherwise, and customers will go to other harbours and will all be worse off as a result.”

Offshore Shellfish Ltd, operated by John and Nicki Holmyard, plan to scale up after a three-year pilot growing the shellfish on 940 hectares of open water in Lyme Bay, off Brixham. The jetty will increase capacity to process around 10,000 tonnes of mussels every year with sales reaching £15million.

Brixham councillor, Cllr Mike Morey, said: “The whole area has been identified for marine industry in the Neighbourhood Plan. Some of the conditions being included as part of the plans show that the harbour authority has been listening to the concerns of the residents as they originally didn’t include anything around condition of working hours.

Brixham has always been a working port and that is the attraction for the holiday industry as they can see marine life working. It has outgrown the current facilities and it does need to expand, and as has been identified, this is the area that is being looked at.”

Documents with the planning application say that the proposal would provide support for an estimated 15 fishing businesses and 20 jobs would be created.

It adds: “Given that the application site is located within Oxen Cove and the proposal would provide additional port infrastructure to support the marine economy, it is considered that the proposal would have a positive economic effect.”

Local residents Margaret Orme and Mark Taylor had spoken against the plans, which has received 12 objections from members of the public.

Mrs Orme said that she did not know enough about the long term plans for Oxen Cove to support the scheme at this stage and called for a local liaison committee should be set up to work in a positive way together to avoid rumours and suspicion.

Mr Taylor added: “I support the principle of the fishing expansion but the site is not the most appropriate. There has been no consultation with the residents and there are a range of adverse environmental impacts with the scheme, as well as the temporary stopping up of the South West Coast Path, and the chaotic traffic impacts on the area will only increase. This should be refused.”

Councillors were told that the South West Coast Path would be re-routed during the construction works, but would definitely not be closed off.

Mr Taylor added: “I support the principle of the fishing expansion but the site is not the most appropriate. There has been no consultation with the residents and there are a range of adverse environmental impacts with the scheme, as well as the temporary stopping up of the South West Coast Path, and the chaotic traffic impacts on the area will only increase. This should be refused.”

Councillors were told that the South West Coast Path would be re-routed during the construction works, but would definitely not be closed off.

Cllr Nick Bye added: “The proposal we have today is purely for a jetty – a fairly simple and straightforward jetty. I can understand the concerns over what happens in the future, but this afternoon, the proposal is for a jetty, and some of the concerns have strayed beyond that. This is a necessary piece of infrastructure and it has been put where it needs to be.”

Recommending approval, council planning officers say: “The proposal would provide additional port infrastructure to support the marine economy. Given the nature of the proposal, including its siting, scale, and design, it is considered that the use of planning conditions can prevent any unacceptable harm in relation to amenity, transport, ecology, and other impacts. The proposal is considered acceptable having regard to the Local Plan and all other material consideration.”

The plans were unanimously approved. Ten car parking spaces across the Oxen Cove and Freshwater car parks will be lost.

Original story by Daniel Clark on DevonLive
Reproduced by kind permission of publisher