Council bosses claimed while a concerted campaign to preserve the fishing industry off the North Yorkshire coast is continuing, there is now a vital need to look towards both the tourism sector and a boom in wind farms to ensure the economy of seaside towns can be sustained.
Members of Scarborough Borough Council’s cabinet committee yesterday supported plans for the phased development of Endeavour Wharf.
Part of the port site will now be marketed but members were told the authority has already received interest from firms in the offshore wind industry which want to use the port as a base to ferry staff and goods to proposed wind farms.
Whitby and other ports have been identified as key locations to support the proposed world’s largest offshore wind farm which is due to be built nearly 80 miles off the Yorkshire coast at Dogger Bank to generate up to 10 per cent of the nation’s electricity.
Speaking after the meeting, the council’s cabinet member for harbours, assets, coast and flood protection, Coun Mike Cockerill, said: “I believe this must be one of the schemes with the greatest potential to benefit the harbour, the town and the borough that has come forward for some years – it’s a major step forward.”
A report before members said the wharf was last used on a “significant commercial scale” for the handling of steel and timber during the 1990s and early 2000s.
The report added: “The proposals, though only in draft form, offer significant economic growth potential and diversification of current port activity.”
However, campaigners opposed to the proposed offshore wind farm questioned whether historic Whitby, loved by tourists for generations, was the right place to be associated with the renewable energy industry.
One of the campaigners, David Hinde, said: “The wind industry must not be allowed to alter Whitby’s historic harbour and to spoil its leisure and tourism industry.”
The site is currently used for parking and will lead to the loss of spaces for visitors to the town, and Coun Cockerill said he was keen to protect other users of the port.
“You have got the fishermen, the leisure users, the charter anglers and we are very keen to protect their interests and what we are doing should not adversely affect them,” he said.
Following yesterday’s meeting, bids will now be invited for the first stage of the redevelopment of Endeavour Wharf and further reports on progress will then be discussed by members.
At the same meeting, members of the council’s cabinet also backed a proposal to ensure urgent repairs are carried out to Whitby’s piers.
Members were told up to 500 homes could be at risk of coastal erosion unless urgent repairs are made.
Members agreed to accept a £4.8m grant towards the estimated £8.5m cost of rescuing the piers.
However, the balance of £3.7m would need to be found from other sources, including the council.
Yesterday’s decision is a major step forward and steps will be taken to firm up costs and seek tenders from contractors.