Brid Marina: EU red tape

Bridlington Harbour
NBFP PA1507-2k
Bridlington Harbour NBFP PA1507-2k

Brussels could have the final say on whether public money can be spent on Bridlington’s long-delayed Harbour and Marina Project.

Aid cannot be given to port projects, unless approved by the European Commission.

The plans for the Marina

The plans for the Marina

It means the East Riding of Yorkshire Council will have to justify investing its taxpayers’ money into the project, by making a case to both the UK government and, ultimately, Brussels.

The project is expected to include new main south pier and extension to the north pier, as well as improved facilities for the harbour’s fishing fleet and the new marina, with berthing space for circa 250 vessels.

Space for firms involved in the maintenance of the offshore wind farm industry will also be created, and commercial development will take place on the quayside for a potential hotel, leisure, retail and residential development with associated car parking.

It comes after the council and Harbour Commissioners entered a memorandum of understanding and committed to ensuring the development goes ahead.

The European Union flag

The European Union flag

The Commissioners have appointed BAM Nuttall, one of the Europe’s largest constructors of harbour and marina projects, to examine the design and potential cost of the project.

The council’s interim director for the Yorkshire Harbour and Marina Project, Pete Ashcroft, said: “There will be a need to invest public funds in the proposals for the Harbour and Marina, as there are no exceptions for this type of investment, a case will be submitted to both the UK Government and European Commission.

“There is a sensitivity in port infrastructure to make sure it does not distort trade.”

While some state aid is prohibited within the EU, it can be given legally by using approved mechanisms, or by getting approval from the European Commission.

The strict law surrounding state aid is designed to prevent unfair advantages being given to organisations, that could potentially distort competition and trade in the EU.

But According to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, some state aid is beneficial to the economy that is necessary to deliver growth and other important objectives.

It is hoped that because Bridlington’s is a smaller fishing port, the Commission will approve state aid and the project can go ahead.

A report for next Tuesday’s East Riding Council cabinet meeting added: “Discussions have also taken place with an expert on state aid, which confirmed the project would need to address such considerations since it would not be commercially viable itself.”

And Chris Wright, the Chairman of Bridlington’s Harbour Commissioners, said he is confident state aid will be granted, and the Harbour and Marina Project can get underway.

He added: “We are all hoping that everything goes fine. We don’t see why it shouldn’t. It’s not a worry and I think everything will work out.

“We have to apply for these things and hope for the best.”

However, Bridlington South Ward Councillor and former Harbour Commissioner of 17 years, Cllr David Robson, said he is pessimistic for the project’s future.

He said: “The emphasis must be on the commercial side of the currant harbour and expand it to embrace the emerging offshore wind industry and accommodate as much as we can the service vessels that they need.

“I have a gut feeling that because a construction of a marina requires outright grants with no possibly of payback (which rules out private investors or companies) and now the acute shortage of that commodity, there is a danger that this project will never see the light of day again - we may have missed the boat and the only thing that is going to be built on the beach is sand castles.”

Brussels could have the final say on whether public money can be spent on Bridlington’s long-delayed Harbour and Marina Project.

European Union regulations stipulate that state aid cannot be given to port infrastructure projects, unless approved by the European Commission.

It means the East Riding of Yorkshire Council will have to justify investing its taxpayers’ money into the project, by making a case to both the UK government and, ultimately, Brussels.

It comes after the council and Harbour Commissioners entered a memorandum of understanding and committed to ensuring the development goes ahead.

The project is expected to include new main south pier and extension to the north pier, improved facilities for the harbour’s fishing fleet and the new marina with berthing space for circa 250 vessels.

Space for firms involved in the maintenance of the offshore wind farm industry will also be created, and commercial development will take place on the quayside for a potential hotel, leisure, retail and residential development with associated car parking.

The council’s interim director for the Yorkshire Harbour and Marina Projecthead of planning and development management, Pete Ashcroft, said: “There will be a need to invest public funds in the proposals for the Harbour and Marina, as there are no exceptions for this type of investment, a case will be submitted to both the UK Government and European Commission.

“There is a sensitivity in port infrastructure to make sure it does not distort trade.”

While some state aid is prohibited within the EU, it can be given legally by using approved mechanisms, or by getting approval from the European Commission.

The strictStrict European law surrounding state aid is designed to prevent unfair advantages being given to organisations, that could potentially distort competition and trade in the EU.

But According to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, some state aid is beneficial to the economy that is necessary to deliver growth and other important objectives.

It is hoped that because Bridlington’s is a smaller fishing port, the Commission will approve state aid and the project can go ahead.

A report for next Tuesday’s East Riding Council cabinet meeting added: “Discussions have also taken place with an expert on state aid, which confirmed the project would need to address such considerations since it would not be commercially viable itself.”

And Chris Wright, the Chairman of Bridlington’s Harbour Commissioners, said he is confident state aid will be granted, and the Harbour and Marina Project can get underway.

He added: “We are all hoping that everything goes fine. We don’t see why it shouldn’t. It’s not a worry and I think everything will work out.

“We have to apply for these things and hope for the best.”