Ever since the plans were announced for the transport of the Crossrail spoil by barge to the development area on the Wallasea Island site, it has been obvious that the interests of the sailing fraternity on the Crouch would be at odds with the constant arrival and departure of the barges.
Over the past few months, a series of meetings between the Crouch Harbour Authority, the Joint Clubs Committee and the various clubs on the river, has resulted in a sailing management plan, which, it is hoped, will enable all users of the river to continue with thier various activities in safety.
Edwin Buckley, Principal Race Officer for the JCC, helped identify critical sailing times with the result that there will be no shipping movements on the August Bank Holiday weekend nor between 14:00 and 15:00h on Saturdays and 10:30 and 11:30h on Sundays between March 1st to October 31st unless agreed with Edwin.
During other times the congestion will be managed by "effective communication with race staff" who, together with CHA and Crossrail representatives will meet on a monthly basis during the racing season.
Edwin Buckley has provided some interesting background information.
"The Shipping Management Plan has been under discussion since early 2009, involving regular meetings with RSPB and Crossrail at their Canary Wharf HQ. The aim has been twofold - an efficient plan for Crossrail whilst allowing the river users to enjoy their leisure sailing, despite barges delivering cargo!
The Shipping Management Plan is part of the Crouch Harbour Authority's Navigational Safety Management Plan. It is a live document which can be changed as the river circumstances change via discussion at monthly meetings. I can then recommend the necessary changes, (preferably with RSPB support) in my annual review to Essex County Council.
The success of the plan requires the clubs to work together and communicate with one voice to the barge masters working on the Crossrail unloading facility. This may involve either a short delay for the barges leaving the pontoon or slowing down as they enter the river so that club racing can clear the barge turning area.
New racing marks are available and the JCC committees are planning new courses incorporating the six marks provided by Crossrail
Plans for the safe youth sailing area are almost complete so look out for more news next month."