What is happening?
For over four years Scarborough Borough Council and the Whitby Harbour Board have been actively seeking to increase commercial activity in Whitby Harbour.
In particular we have been working to promote the Borough as great location to establish offshore wind operations and maintenance activity. Over this period the Council have undertaken numerous consultation events, supply chain development activity and educational events etc. to try and encourage both the industry and our communities to engage with this opportunity.
Over the past months the Council have received a number of enquiries from organisations wishing to explore establishing offshore wind related activity in our ports, particularly in Whitby. Whitby is the closet serviceable UK port to the proposed offshore wind development site at Dogger Bank.
Acting on these enquiries the Council and the Whitby Harbour Board invited open tenders for a lease of a proportion of Endeavour Wharf in June of this year.
Following this process Dalby Offshore Services Limited, a locally based offshore wind company, were identified as the Councils preferred tenderer in September 2014. Dalby propose the establishment of an offshore wind operations and maintenance hub on Endeavour Wharf bringing with it a significant number of new job opportunities and new vessel activity in the port.
In brief, the proposal suggests the establishment of a centre to undertake personnel and equipment transfer, vessel management operations and vessel servicing activity. The company also wish to include within the development an offshore renewables information / visitor centre which will be open to the public..
However, prior to entering into any lease , the Borough Council and Whitby harbour board are now working together to explore this proposition and undertake consultation with stakeholders and community to assist in developing the proposals further.
Why is this being done?
Whitby Port, the economy of our Borough and the wider region needs to grow and diversify if it is to remain sustainable, prosperous and successful. Importantly our communities desperately need opportunities for high quality local employment.
Over £40bn is being invested in offshore wind development in the waters off the Yorkshire Coast, resulting in the creation of 10’s of thousands of jobs nationally. Due to our geography and port infrastructure we have the opportunity to secure some of that investment. Predominantly our opportunity lies in the supply of services, maintenance activity and the provision of personnel to the offshore wind sector.
Although Whitby Port maintains strong fishing, leisure, boat manufacture and tourism functions, it also has significant potential to once again provide good commercial port facilities for other maritime industries, particularly upon Endeavour Wharf, bringing with it jobs, prosperity and greater economic security.
Isn’t this already a “done deal”?
No lease agreement or formal agreement of any kind has been entered into. The Council and the Harbour Board have only made Dalby Offshore Services preferred tenderer for the Endeavour Wharf lease.
This simply gives all the parties the confidence required to engage meaningfully with stakeholders and the community; and to work together to develop proposals before making the decision to enter into any agreement.
Why the “secret” Cabinet meeting in September then?
The report to Cabinet 16th Sept 2014 regarding the decision to make Dalby Offshore Services preferred tenderer contained commercially sensitive information about the tenderer/s business undertakings, finances, references etc. For this reason alone the report was restricted.
However, for clarity the recommendations of the report were simply to:
- note the recommendation of the tender evaluation panel and approve the appointment of Dalby Offshore Services Limited (DOSS) as the preferred tenderer for the Endeavour Wharf lease.
- to enter into detailed negotiations with DOSS and undertake wider stakeholder consultation and to clarify any lease terms.
- provide a further report to Cabinet in due course reporting on the outcome of such negotiations and consultation, including the detailed terms of any lease arrangement, and seeking final authorisation to enter into a lease with DOSS.
What will the development look like if it goes ahead?
No idea, yet.
Stakeholder views on this are critical, all parties realise this is one of the most important elements of a development in a historic town like Whitby.
Dalby Offshore are committed to bringing forward a high quality proposal. They, the Council and the Harbour Board want very much to work with the stakeholders and the community to make sure we get your input and contributions.
There will be a number of consultation events to gather people’s views on this element of the scheme.
Will there be a planning application?
No, this is unlikely, unless the proposals change.
One of the pass fail criteria of the invitation to tender was that only permitted development activity would be considered. The outline proposals as they currently stand are within the definition permitted development. i.e. they’re in line with the undertakings of a port and are associated with the transfer of persons, equipment and cargo etc. onto vessels.
However prior to any permitted development application, given the sensitive environment in which this proposal is to be located and the possible implications this may have on stakeholders, the Council’s Development Control service is calling for the tenderer to undertake meaningful consultation with stakeholders and the community; and to demonstrate that any proposals do not detract from the environment in which they are to be established.
What about the loss of parking?
Public parking is undoubtedly very valuable to Whitby and its economy, the proposed lease area, if utilised, will take away approximately 70 temporary public parking spaces.
However a recent re-organisation of parking at the upper harbour and the introduction of the park and ride scheme more than offset this reduction.
Importantly, Endeavour Wharf is a working port facility and therefore this should be its primary function if at all possible. Parking on the site has only ever been on a temporary basis until such time as alternative port uses could be found.
Is there room for this development, what about the impact on other harbour users and businesses?
The proposals suggest using a proportion (about 1/3 rd) of the wharf and to have a number of associated vessels berthed within the Port.
Previously the Port accommodated 24 large trawlers as well as all of the other port users and Endeavour Wharf itself handled 300 cargo vessels movements per year and over 150,000 tonnes of cargo.
These days the port has very limited trawler activity and no cargo or cargo vessels. Therefore there is ample room to accommodate this development and an increase in vessel traffic and berthing before the Port comes anywhere near reaching capacity.
How do I get involved what is the process?
We will be holding a number of stakeholder and community consultation events during the coming weeks including a public consultation / exhibition. Once we have firmed up the dates and times of these events they will be publicised through the local media and on the following website www.whitbywind.co.uk
What is the timetable for the process?
We hope to have undertaken the majority of the consultation and negotiation for this scheme by the end of December 2014. We will then report the outcome of this work to the Council and decide how to proceed.
Ultimately it is the ambition of the tenderer to have the proposals implemented and operational by the beginning of 2016.