Council 'powerless' in quay fence row

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to stop a controversial fence being put up along a quay in a picturesque Essex village suffered a blow last night after planning bosses said they were powerless to intervene.

Craig Robinson

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to stop a controversial fence being put up along a quay in a picturesque Essex village suffered a blow last night after planning bosses said they were powerless to intervene.

Tendring District Council said that Trent Wharfage Ltd was not breaking any rules in putting up the metal barrier along Mistley quay.

As a result the authority cannot order the two metre fence be taken down - despite the concerns of local residents who feel it is restricting the view and cutting off public access to the quayside.

A spokesman for Tendring District Council said the barrier did not amount to a development requiring planning permission.

He added: “Secondly, dock or harbour undertakings have their own specific rights to carry out development for the purpose of shipping or in connection with the handling of goods. It appears that the fence in question could also be erected under those powers.

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“The council will be putting to the company (Trent Wharfage Ltd) and the Health and Safety Executive the understandable local public concerns about the appearance of the fence and its impact in limiting public access to the waterside and the use of the quay by boats for mooring purposes.

“However, this council has no powers to require the removal or modification of the fence. Moreover, it has no jurisdiction over what private or public rights may or may not exist over the land in question.”

Kate Worsley, a parish councillor and member of protest group Free the Quay, said the campaigners were taking legal advice and were optimistic about being able to establish rights of way to the quay and the mooring.

“We've been told the fence is within a conservation area and therefore planning rules and arrangements should apply,” she said. “However, if that's what Tendring District Council has said then we will have to get back to them.”

Trent Wharfage Ltd - which owns Mistley Quay - has said the fence is necessary and stems from advice given by the Health and Safety Executive under the requirements of the Docks Regulations Act 1988.

Representatives from the company recently met with campaigners - which included Mrs Worsley - to discuss the fence and come up with a solution.

A spokesman said: “The attendants accepted the need for a fence but objected to an industrial fence on conservation grounds. Cllr Worsley suggested various designs for cast iron fencing. The port explained why these alternative fencing models failed to address safety objectives given the illustrated four metre drop to hard ground at low tide and the heavy HGV/mechanical trafficking of a warehouse circulation area.”

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