We are writing to you to advise of the latest progress of the major repair and refurbishment project being carried out by the Environment Agency and their contractor Kier to the Sutton Harbour lock gates.

We are also seeking your views on a suggestion from the fishing fleet to bring forward the start of the second phase of works (from March 2024 to January 2024) with a view to completing the project and returning the harbour to normal operations as early as possible.

The Environment Agency has advised us that the recent four-day closure of the lock (completed at the end of November) saw the new cills successfully fixed to the lock bottom. Phase one is now scheduled to see the lock return to full 24/7 operations from no later than Tuesday, December 19 (although the EA is aiming to return the control outside of working hours and operations prior to that date).

The mitigation measures put in place by Sutton Harbour Company to support the fishing fleet with lay-up berthing (at the Barbican Landing Site and Cattewater River Pontoon) and the landing of catch (at Trinity Pier) at times when access to the harbour is not possible are well established, with the fleet and Plymouth Fisheries team working well together to ensure these arrangements have operated successfully for the benefit of the industry.

This has led to the suggestion from a number of those in the fishing fleet that it might be better to simply carry on with the works in the New Year rather than pause work and recommence Phase 2 on the inner gates in March, as per the current programme.

Following this suggestion, Sutton Harbour Company organised a poll of fishers on the basis that, depending on the results, the Company would then discuss the possibilities with the Environment Agency.

The results of the poll (carried out via the fishers WhatsApp group set up by Sutton Harbour, which has proven a very effective tool for communicating with the industry) indicated the majority of boats represented supported bringing forward the start of Phase 2. Sutton Harbour Company has duly raised the matter with the Environment Agency, which in turn is reviewing the implications of such a change, in discussions with relevant parties, including the contractors.

Indications are, that while there remain a number of logistical hurdles to clear, not least approval for changing spending of the allocated budget, such a change to the project programme is possible.

We are therefore communicating with stakeholders with an interest in the harbour to advise them of the discussions taking place and to consult them on the matter, to ensure their views and feedback are represented as part of final considerations and any decision being made.

Under the current schedule, agreed following previous consultation with harbour users and other stakeholders, the project was split into two phases, with a pause in between. As a result:

  • Phase 2 work to the inner gates is due to commence on 11 March 2024 and scheduled to be completed by 17 June 2024. (Note: Works involving restrictions to access through the lock are scheduled to finish earlier, on 22 May 2024.)

Should it prove possible for Phase 2 to be brought forward, the earliest that work could start would be about mid-January, giving an indicative programme of:

  • Phase 2 work to the inner gates commencing on or around January 15 2024 and with an estimated completion of 26 April 2024. (Again, works involving restrictions to access through the lock would be estimated to finish earlier, on 12 April 2024.

We would be grateful if you would respond with any comments you might have on the possible rescheduling of Phase 2 of the project, as outlined above, by end of Sunday December 10 2023.

This will allow us to collate feedback from all harbour users, in line with our commitment from the outset of this project to identify the optimal manner and timing in which to conduct the works, while minimising the impact to collective users within the harbour.

Please submit your comments to the following email address:

Sutton Harbour Company