Spurn Point ‘deterioration’ sparks £5m maritime base move

Spurn Point.''Picture: Gary Longbottom
Spurn Point.''Picture: Gary Longbottom
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The UK’s leading ports group has confirmed it is having to move from its long-standing base on one of Yorkshire’s remotest coastal outposts as access is so poor.

Associated British Ports (ABP) has confirmed it is relocating from Spurn Point to a purpose-built Marine Control Centre at Grimsby in a £5m scheme.

The new Marine Control Centre will be located between Royal Dock and Fish Dock at the north end of the port estate in Grimsby

The new Marine Control Centre will be located between Royal Dock and Fish Dock at the north end of the port estate in Grimsby

The Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) centre, which manages maritime traffic, has been a landmark on Spurn Point since the 1960s.

But ABP, which runs the Humber ports of Grimsby, Immingham, Hull and Goole, said the site had become “increasingly difficult” to access due to the “progressive deterioration” of the peninsula.

Last week, the Yorkshire Post reported on concerns that a half a million pound Lottery project to re-open Sprun Lighthouse to the public, ran by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, could become a “white elephant” after access to it washed away in the 2013 tidal surge.

ABP Director Humber Simon Bird said: “The Spurn Peninsula is now as low-lying and unprotected as at any time in living memory and maintaining road access has been difficult.

“In addition to this, the regeneration of Grimsby as a major port means it requires an additional level of marine oversight and control.

“As the Statutory Harbour Authority for the Estuary and for the ports of Immingham, Grimsby, Hull and Goole, we have a responsibility to manage marine operations to the standards set by the Port Marine Safety Code so all users can navigate the river safely.

“It makes sense to combine these functions under one roof in a new purpose-built Humber Marine Control Centre.”

Work is expected to begin late spring and will continue for around 15 months, when the existing buildings at Spurn Peninsula will be handed back over to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, which owns the land.

The Trust, which is currently awaiting a decision on a joint planning application with ABP to place a radar scanner on the landward end of the peninsular, said it was not yet in a position to comment on what would happen to the land.

Terry Smithson, Director of Operations (North & East), said: “Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is proud to have supported such an important operation at Spurn National Nature Reserve. We have developed an effective partnership with ABP at Spurn and look forward to continued close working and across the Humber demonstrating how essential nature is in supporting our economy.”

The new Marine Control Centre, based to the north end of the Port of Grimsby, between Royal Dock, overlooking the lower Humber, will include the company’s marine department, pilotage operations, upgraded radar systems and a VTS training facility.

The project will also incorporate a number of environmental measures, including rain water recycling, motion sensors on LED lighting and solar panels and ground heat exchangers.

ABP Head of Marine Humber, Phil Cowing said: “Grimsby has become an increasingly important hub for offshore wind support and is a crucial link in the automotive supply chain and as such now requires its own marine control function.

“A plot was identified that was capable of housing a combined control centre with good access, services and resilience, while affording VTS Humber views over the mouth of the Estuary. It’s appropriate that this new facility is sited close to the entrance of what is the UK’s busiest trading gateway.”