WORRIED residents’ questions over a major development to increase the depth of Harwich harbour have been addressed at a meeting.

Harwich Haven Authority has organised a public meeting last Thursday night at the Waterfront, in Lower Marine Parade, Dovercourt to discuss any concerns or questions residents might have about the £90 million development.

Paul Preece, co-ordinator of Harwich Friends of the Earth, said: “I’m concerned about the impact the project will have on tidal flow, on how much sand will be taken away, if more sediments will be brought in and about if Bathside Bay will be made viable.”

John Brien, Harbour Engineer at Harwich Haven Authority, reassured residents there will be no extension of dredging, all will be done within the existing channel limits, deepening the harbour and channel from the existing 14.5 meter to 16.0 meters.

He said: “It has been dredged so many times before, there’s not going to be any major change.

“There will be no waste coming into Dovercourt Bay, most material will be disposed of at sea in a licensed disposal area, about 22 miles offshore, in 50m of water.

“We are planning to use some material in beneficial projects, such as Mersea Harbour protection, projects for the Environment Agency and habitat creation.

“If and when Bathside bay port development might happen it will only benefit from this.”

Mr Preece has also raised his concern over wildlife and whether it will be affected after the dredging.

However, Mr Brien said all their surveys and reports show it won’t have any impact on the wildlife.

He said: “We currently have 15,000 birds venturing within our harbour and we don’t see that changing.”

Harwich Haven Authority said the shipping lines are moving to use larger, deeper and more economic vessels, and container ships with the deepest draft can only arrive and depart from Felixstowe only over the high-water periods.

Almost 40 per cent of all UK containers come through Felixstowe and if more than one ship needs to move over high tide, one ship is likely to be delayed up to 12 hours, so further dredging is vital for future growth.

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) still needs to give consent for this project, so people can still send in their views and concerns at bit.ly/2PZina7, accessing the ‘make a comment’ section of case reference MLA/2019/00371.

Alternatively people can email marine.consents@marinemanagement.org.uk.

All views need to be sent within 42 days of October 21.