Agenda and minutes

Exeter Harbour Board - Thursday 23rd June 2022 5.30 pm

Venue: Rennes Room, Civic Centre Exeter

Contact: Sharon Sissons, Democratic Services Offier  Telephone 01392 265115 or email

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 329 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting of the Exeter Harbour Board held on 14 March 2022.


The minutes of the meeting held on 14 March 2022 be taken as read and signed by the Chair as a correct record.



Declarations of Interest

Members are reminded of the need to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests that relate to business on the agenda and which have not already been included in the register of interests, before any discussion takes place on the item. Unless the interest is sensitive, you must also disclose the nature of the interest. In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, you must then leave the room and must not participate in any further discussion of the item.  Councillors requiring clarification should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer prior to the day of the meeting.



No declarations of discloseable pecuniary interest were made.



Public Question Time

A period of up to 15 minutes is available to deal with questions relating to the business of the Harbour Board from the public.


Details of questions should be notified to the Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic support via the email by 10.00am at least three working days prior to the meeting. For this meeting any questions must be submitted by 10.00am on Monday 20 June 2022.



It was noted that there were no public questions received.



Introduction to the Board - Members Update


The Chair invited Members of the Board to introduce themselves as there had been a change in the membership following the new civic year. She also confirmed that Simon Adams and Anthony Garratt had been reappointed as Board Members for a further term of three years. The Engineering, Waterways and Parking Service Manager provided some background on the External Board Member appointments which used a skills matrix to ensure the Board as a whole could offer the necessary range of specialist expertise, knowledge and qualifications. The Harbour Board, which had been in place for a year, sits in an advisory capacity to the Council’s Executive in terms of all the expertise and experience that Board Members bring advising the Executive who will remain responsible for matters of policy and funding. The Board had assembled a number of aims and ambitions at a Visioning Event held in January 2022, with a view to running a safe and competent port, being mindful of the environmental aspects and the ambition to make the waterways service financially self-sustainable over time.


The Chair offered a vote of thanks to the previous members of the Board, Councillors Allcock, Buswell, and Sparkes and particularly Councillor Harvey who had chaired the first year of the Harbour Board.  She also wished to thank the Harbour Master for providing a very extensive induction for all Councillors, as well as the Harbour Board members to show the challenges of the Estuary and canal.


Exeter Port Users Group Update

To receive an update from the Chair of the Exeter Port Users Group (EPUG) – Rex Frost.



The Chair of the Exeter Port Users Group, Rex Frost was unable to attend the meeting, but submitted an update on the Groups’ recent activities which was presented by the Engineering, Waterways and Parking Service Manager who reported that:-


·           in April, he had invited the Harbour Master and Ben Bradshaw, MP for an afternoon on the river. Mr Bradshaw was surprised by the geographical size of the Harbour area and the significant responsibility which was entailed and very interested in all the activities we came across and the explanations of how they related to the Harbour Master’s responsibilities.  He indicated that he would assist with any issues which may have to be referred to Government, but his term of office may have ended if a Harbour Revision Order is ever submitted.


·           the entrance channel marks were all moved to new positions in early May, much to the relief of all local Mariners.  The effects of the weather in the winter were to significantly shift the channel eastward and the buoyed area was extremely shallow.


·           other parts of the river have also suffered from silting and in several areas realignment of buoyage is required, but negotiations may be required with other stakeholders to accomplish a desirable result.


·           the water patrol has been active on many days when the river is busy and is having an appropriate influence on the behaviour of fast craft.


Members noted the report.


Harbour Master's Report pdf icon PDF 229 KB

To receive a quarterly report from the Harbour Master.


The Harbour Master provided an update on the circulated report. He referred to an invitation extended to Board Members for a tour of the river and the canal to look at the activities and the maintenance challenges faced by the team. He raised a number of matters of note which included:-


·           the Friends of the Exeter Ship Canal have achieved Historic Harbour status with the support of the Exeter Canal and Quay Trust (ECQT). A number of forthcoming events have been planned on the Quay, including a Sea Shanty Festival with visiting vintage vessels on the 11th September 2022. The ECQT have been supportive of the team’s activities across the Council and have funded the repair of the pontoon in the canal.


·           a survey of the marked channel using a multibeam side scanner showed that the channel had shifted significantly to the east of the chartered positions. A total of eight buoys have now been moved and charts have been updated, including Notices to Mariners to ensure that the marked channel was clear. There was an ongoing maintenance programme of the navigation aids which included lifting, inspecting, repaint and checking and replacing the lights on each of those buoys.


·           their working vessel, the Can Doo cannot be used to reach the buoys south of Buoy 10, and the team would like to charter a moorings vessel, with the necessary Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) vessel  coding. They would to be able to maintain the navigational aids as well as carry out commercial work servicing customers moorings as well.


·           they worked closely with the Exe Estuary Management Partnership, Topsham Ferry and local clubs to make sure everyone was kept informed of any news or events.


·           the aspirations for the Harbour team included achieving a HRO, combining and replacement of their two work vessels, dredging parts of the ship canal and improving the facilities at the buoy store.


The Harbour Master responded to Board Members’ questions:-


·       he had met with a contractor to discuss proposed works for the removal of 5,000 cubic metres of material from the Canal in order to maintain the access to the Canal Basin and Exeter Quay for deep draught vessels. An excavator on a floating pontoon would be required to lift silt from the canal and move to the canal bank to be taken away.


·      environmental and sustainable considerations were taken into account with such work and a similar exercise involved the spoil being laid on an adjacent allotment site as it was free from contaminates.  They would explore the possibility of selling the material or seeking a site on the overflow for the river near the allotments.


·       referencing a comment about the reason for selling the team’s moorings barge to charter a purpose built craft that was both fully Maritime and Coastguard Agency coded and Port Marine Safety Code compliant. This could be chartered on a monthly basis thus negating the need to hire in a contractor to maintain the buoys at sea. The craft  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


Harbour Revision Order Discussion

To discuss the issues relating to any future application for a Harbour Revision Order.



The Engineering, Waterways and Parking Service Manager referred to the Council’s commitment to achieving Port Marine Safety Code compliance with the process having commenced through the formation of the Harbour Board. A successful application for a Harbour Revision Order (HRO) would help to ensure the safe running of the port, having sufficient powers to be able to levy harbour dues on vessels and carry out appropriate enforcement on the river and canal. In recent years, the Council has demonstrated an ambition to run a safe port, has invested in patrol boats, and ensured competent and qualified staff carried out the appropriate maintenance of the buoys and navigation aids.


He invited Members of the Harbour Board to offer their views on an application for a HRO being made, as well as any other course of action they might suggest. The views of the Board would be included in a report to the Executive and Full Council with any cost implication for consideration. It was acknowledged that making an application would be both a costly and lengthy exercise and include legal advice being sought, garnering evidence for the application from users and stakeholders as well as appropriate advertising through public notices. An estimate of £75,000 for the cost of submitting an application had been suggested, but this did not take into account any additional work required for any challenge that may be subsequently made. The Port Users Group as one of the Board’s main stakeholders had already commented along with informal feedback from the Estuary users that there was a greater appreciation that any future charges levied would be used to make the port self-sufficient financially with any improvements for the good of the users.


Where appropriate, the Engineering, Waterways and Parking Service Manager gave the following responses to Board Members’ comments and enquiries (the response was in italics).


·         we are one of the only ports that does not have Marine Port Compliance and the Board Member had some concern over the lack of progress in pursuing a HRO to address this. The canal was virtually the only inland waterway in the country that was not part of the British Canal Licensing Scheme and, whilst it was not about seeking additional revenue, it should be about investing in extra facilities that could be accessible to all. There had been a great deal of scene setting and discussions on how a HRO would be progressed, what it might cost and how we might fund it, and how such a request would fit in with the Council’s Committee process over the forthcoming autumn period.


·         whilst we should commend the Council and officers for the work they have done so far, applying for a HRO required careful consideration. Some individuals may perceive a HRO proposal as the opportunity to simply put regulations in place or raise finances, but this was clearly not the case. One of the reasons that the previous HRO in 2003 had met so much objection was centred on the lack of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.