The Falkland Islands Planning and Building Committee (PBC) has recommended, unanimously, that the current plans for the new port to be refused by Executive Council. Following the decision the committee adjourned to provide written reasons, --environmental and shortcomings--, to Executive Council (ExCo) for consideration when making the final decision whether to accept or not.
However Clare Mansfield, BAM Design Manager, responsible for the new port contract replied to objections arguing that there has been “extensive consultation” over the course of 40 meetings and 30 workshops, which have resulted in roughly 4,000 comments, which she said had been taken on board by BAM Nuttall during the design process.
Likewise the Falkland Islands Fishing Companies Association commented that without the port there “can be little/no scope for real economic development for the Islands” but FIFCA also pointed out it, “shares some of the concerns demonstrated” related to costs, commercial land availability and FIPASS dismantlement.
Nevertheless since the planning application was made by the Falklands' Government, it cannot be refused solely by the PBC.
The reasons given by the Planning and Building committee for recommending refusal were: dust and debris from dismantling the FIPASS barges affecting the human food supply; effect upon the Seafarer’s Mission and Stanley Growers, both of which were represented by prior written, and verbal, objections; a belief that environment mitigation is not significant enough to minimize impact during construction of the new port; a lack of information on the dismantling of FIPASS, in particular how much material would be left and what would be done with it; and the design and appearance of the port, in particular the port management building and the security gate, which would both be seen by many entrants to the Falklands using the port as the gateway.
The Committee also sent a number of informative points for the Executive Council to have while considering whether to follow the recommendation of the committee to refuse the application or not.
These informative statements were that there was currently no Roll-On/Roll-Off (RORO) capability at the new port, which would make it unusable for the Concordia Bay ferry; the access road going through Stanley Growers land should be reconsidered; there needs to be a clarification of the water depth of the area once construction is completed, in particular as to the ship draught this would allow; that further details come back to the committee; and greater time is allowed for committee members to consider such documents in the future – as it was felt that “a lot was asked” of members.
During the meeting six objections were heard. These objections raised concerns about noise pollution affecting neighbors, chemical pollution on the food supply, lack of access for fishermen to the Seafarer’s Mission, the placement of the port access road, the public consultation process, hygiene relating to the extraction of liquid waste and drying of it on land, health and safety precautions on the port, environmental measures and mitigation, and the proximity of the port to the in progress vulnerable persons unit among other concerns.
Clare Mansfield, BAM Design Manager, spoke in response to the objections. She stated that there has been “extensive consultation” over the course of 40 meetings and 30 workshops, which have resulted in roughly 4,000 comments - which she said had been taken on board by BAM Nuttall during the design process. She noted it was “vital Stanley had a port.”
Ms Mansfield said since arriving in the Falklands she had watched operations on FIPASS and had identified on one specific occasion the Scout could have arrived two days sooner, trans-shipment from fishing vessels would have been improved, and each container would have been on and off of the port “at least five minutes quicker.”
In response to some of the comments Ms Mansfield noted a number of changes following comments to reduce environment damage, effect on neighbors and ensure safety, and summarized that “consent isn’t the end of the dialogue, it’s the start,” and there would be more information or changes added in the detailed design which may address concerns.
Due to the planning application having been made by Government it cannot be refused solely by the PBC. The committee has recommended refusal and this will be taken to ExCo with the recommendation of the committee.
Falkland Islands Fishing Companies Association commented: without the port there “can be little/no scope for real economic development for the Islands” but FIFCA “share some of the concerns demonstrated” related to costs, commercial land availability and FIPASS dismantlement.
About statements that this decision could cause delays it was stated: “We believe that, with proper discussion, the issues that have been raised during the planning application process can be dealt with quickly and effectively and that we will end up with a port that will play a critical part in the development of the Islands for many years to come.”