THE boss of a Shoreham fish wholesaler says Shoreham Port’s plans to cut back its dredging operations are an attempt to drive his and other firms from the harbour.
Monteum chairman Jim Partridge fears businesses in the western arm will suffer when the port consolidates its shipping to the eastern harbour arm and cuts back on dredging.
He says the move could also lead to increased flooding in the Adur Valley.
Mr Partridge’s concerns are in response to statements made by the port’s property manager Tim Hague at a meeting of the Sussex Property Alliance, around 50 property developers, builders and architects, where talks focused on the Shoreham Harbour Regeneration Strategy.
During the meeting, Mr Hague outlined Shoreham Port’s wish to move shipping to the eastern harbour arm to ‘reduce the considerable cost of dredging’.
Mr Partridge said he believed this was part of a plan by Adur Council and the port authority to ‘coerce’ firms into leaving to make way for housing development, but said he had ‘no intention of disappearing’.
Shoreham Port’s development director Peter Davies insisted there was no cause for concern.
“Obviously, with fewer and fewer ships visiting that part of the port there is less need to dredge all the berths, but there are no plans to change the Port Authority’s role and responsibilities,” he said.
“We will continue to dredge when required to ensure the river can be used for commercial and leisure purposes.”
Mr Davies maintained that any businesses wishing to stay in the western arm were welcome to do so, and said the Port was legally obliged to maintain the harbour for its users.
“One or two are more concerned than others, but those desperate to stay in that area, I don’t really see why they can’t,” he said.
Mr Davies also insisted that dredging had ‘no significant role to play in flood prevention’.
Mr Partridge maintained that reducing dredging would significantly worsen flooding as some wharves were already silted up by two to three metres, meaning there was less space for water to escape into the sea.
The Shoreham Harbour Joint Area Action Plan aims to redevelop the western harbour arm as a residential, mixed-use area, moving certain businesses to other areas to free up space on the waterfront.