Action decided on riverside moorings

February 05 2020

Boats moored along the riverbank in Mead Lane, Saltford, where a structural survey will take place

Boats moored along the riverbank in Mead Lane, Saltford, where a structural survey will take place

COUNCILLORS have made a decision on moorings on the Mead Lane riverbank in Saltford at their latest cabinet meeting.
In 2005, B&NES Council undertook bio-engineered stabilisation works at Mead Lane, where the river bank was secured with rock armour and vegetation.
At the time, engineering firm Halcrow predicted that loss of part of the highway would occur within five to 10 years if no action was taken.
However, after taking professional advice from a Bath-based coastal and inland civil engineering consultancy, concerned Saltford Environment Group (SEG) determined that stabilisation work of the riverbank 14 years ago was not designed for moorings (which became more frequent in 2014), creating safety fears that the road could collapse into the river.
SEG brought the Mead Lane consultation and the technical design for the 2005 works to B&NES Council’s attention in October 2019.
Following this, B&NES Council held a consultation with independent consultants Lemon Gazelle, which involved a series of events with residents, boaters and stakeholders, and generated a total of 1,251 responses.
At the meeting on Thursday January 16, councillors agreed:
l to undertake a structural survey of the riverbank at Mead Lane, and as part of the survey consider the suitability of this land for future moorings (subject to approval of the revenue budget provision by cabinet/council in February 2020)
l that officers would report back to cabinet once the results of the structural survey are known, to enable cabinet to make an informed decision on the long-term use of this land.
l that the moorings at Mead Lane will be removed within 21 days and officers will also undertake further analysis of residential mooring arrangements along the river, to include arrangements for boaters and their families.
Once the investigation is completed, SEG and Saltford Parish Council (SPC) will seek the designation of Mead Lane from the council as a Local Nature Reserve (or similar) to help protect the vegetation that secures the rock armour.
The group also hope the repairs to the riverbank will not be as expensive as the six-figure sum spent on installing the now-compromised stabilisation scheme in 2005.
Wessex Water, whose sewage treatment facility had also been put at risk as a result of moorings being allowed in Mead Lane, has also backed the case for rescuing the stabilisation scheme put forward by SEG and SPC.
Speaking about the decision, Saltford ward councillor Duncan Hounsell said: “The moorings trial is an experiment which hasn’t worked.
"From the start, proper processes and residents’ views were ignored.
“This is an unsuitable location for moorings. No proper facilities were provided, leading to the deterioration of the riverbank. There is a risk that essential infrastructure could be damaged.
 “I’m pleased that the new Lib Dem administration is listening to local people and will initiate a structural survey.
 “In the long term, we must secure the stability of the riverbank, restore it to public open space and ensure there are enough suitable moorings within the council area for live-aboard boaters.”