Monday, February 20, 2017

Proposals for the development of Nairn Harbour - "potentially the most exciting development in Nairn for a generation" Michael Green

Today the draft proposals for Nairn Harbour were presented to the Nairnshire Committee in the Courthouse - the Gurn has obtained a copy of the detailed working brief and also a statement from the Chair of the Nairn Harbour Working Group Michael Green. The members of the working group are:

Michael Green -  Chair
Tony Usher – HC Harbours Manager
Robbie Barron – Nairn Harbour Master
Ken Killham – Commodore Nairn Sailing Club
Dave Duthie – Nairn Sailing Club
Jamie Walker – Nairn Kayak Club
Brian Stewart – NICE
Matthew Hilton – NICE
Steven Bain – River CC
Eric Wardlaw – Tour operator and harbour user

Michael Green said:

“The draft proposals from the Nairn Harbour Working Group outline potentially the most exciting development in Nairn for a generation. Regeneration of the harbour and waterfront area is a strategic priority for Nairn and the creation of a development strategy will be a key action in promoting local economic activity and prosperity. 

The imaginative and technically competent proposals outline a vision to develop the harbour into a facility able to attract and accommodate a wide range of boats and yachts, plus develop the area into an international centre of excellence for water-sports. 

In addition, the development of the harbour and seafront area will act as a catalyst for town centre regeneration and in conjunction with our world glass beaches and golf courses will once again establish Nairn as a jewel in the national tourism crown. 

Whilst each component part of the plan will involve unique partnership arrangements, Nairn is well provisioned with capacity and bodies, both private and public, to move the various projects forward: a financially sound Common Good Fund, NICE , Nairnshire Tourism BID , HIE, UK and European grant sources, not to mention a dynamic Nairnshire Area Committee. 

As Chair of the Nairn Harbour Working Group, I want to thank the members of the working group for their time, expertise and commitment .We look forward to extensive consultation with stakeholders and the people of Nairn alike. Only with effective and robust consultation, will the group deliver a strategy to create the most prosperous, dynamic and exciting town in the Highlands to live and work.”
Cllr Michael Green – Chair Nairn Harbour Working Group.

Development of Nairn Harbour – briefing note, January 2017

Executive Summary

The Highland Council’s 2016 report on Local Strategic Priorities for Nairnshire, as approved by the Nairnshire Committee in December 2016, identified regeneration of the harbour area through creation of a development strategy as a key action in promoting local economic development and prosperity. This document aims to inform and support the development of such a strategy by providing an up-to-date, overall assessment of the current state and the future viability of Nairn harbour.

The harbour and waterfront are key assets of the area and form the nucleus of Nairn’s ability to attract increasing levels of visitor numbers and associated inward investment which will in turn enable a more vibrant and sustainable community to evolve.   This will benefit the area as a whole and in particular its residents and businesses. There is considerable potential to develop the harbour through appropriate actions and investment, to both ensure its sustainability and maximise its already considerable potential to support and enhance the town's overall economy.

Although the harbour and adjacent beaches represents the prime focus for most visitors to Nairn, the current state of the harbour and its associated facilities and environs, are restricting it realising its key role as a driver of prosperity.

The vision is to develop the harbour in a planned and coordinated manner through improvements within the harbour basin, enhancing the appeal of the current harbour-front buildings, and through construction of a sympathetically designed state-of- the-art, multifunctional harbour building. This could provide facilities such as a water-sports centre of international standard; an educational facility to enable the community to rediscover the fishing and maritime heritage of Nairn, a harbour masters office, a tour-boat booking and administrative office, shower/toilet facilities, an aquarium promoting local species found in the Firth, and a retail suite.

The above building developments are planned in conjunction with improvements to the harbour and its approaches/environs to ensure Nairn provides an attractive locus for visiting yachts, locally based fishing boats, tour boats, pleasure boating, international water-sports events as well as enhancing the local experience for visitors.

The proposals contained within this document are designed to complement, and potentially form an integral part of, an overall plan developed by the community to enhance the Nairn area for the benefit of all.

Figure 1: Schematic of Nairn Harbour.

Although there's been a harbour in Nairn since the early 19th century, the current, walled harbour was built in 1932 by enclosing the River Nairn and dredging out the harbour itself on the west bank of the river. The banks of the Nairn have been extended out into the Firth to form high “training” walls to constrict the flow of the river and encourage it to scour out a channel.  The harbour currently has 3 pontoons (installed between 2006 and 2009), with finger and alongside wall/pontoon berths for about 77 vessels, mostly recreational, and with an average length of about 7m. Entry to the harbour from the sea is tidally restricted, and is partly facilitated by sector lights at the ends of the training walls, although the channel is not buoyed.

1    Challenges to sustainability of current harbour
1.1    Harbour silting
Nairn harbour, last dredged in 1989, is currently suffering from serious silting, and consequent lack of deep water access which adversely affects navigation and hence restricts income from visiting craft. Silting has been progressing at a rate of about 5-10 cm per year for the last 3 decades and there is currently between 1.5 and 2m of mostly river-borne, soft silt lying on the harbour floor.
As well as deterring visiting craft, the silting is increasingly a restriction to navigation for current berth-holders.
1.2     Wind-blown sand
The north end of the harbour basin has been filling with wind-blown sand and this occurs in strong westerly winds. The sand also blocks the car-park abutting the harbour to the north and has to be cleared by the Council.
1.3     River channel and harbour approaches
While the harbour has filled with fine, river-borne silt, the river channel to the harbour has been increasingly blocked by the overall bed-load of the River Nairn. The upstream erosion responsible for this has increased in recent years, partly due to removal of river gravel for building.
The approach to the harbour has a long history of westward, long-shore drift and this lateral movement of sand and stone reduces over time the depth of the access channel to the harbour. The consequent effects on navigability relate to both the window of access to the harbour around high tide and the draft of boats able to safely enter the harbour.
1.4     Shortage of berths
There is currently a waiting list of 32 boats requiring berths in the harbour. Most of the boats on the list are small recreational/fishing boats around 5-6m in length, but still represent potential for additional income.
1.5     Lack of facilities
The absence of deep water transit berths, power and water to pontoons, and disabled facilities (such as a bosun's-chair lift to enable disabled access to boats) make the harbour less attractive for visiting boats. The sailing club welcomes all harbour visitors, and provides toilets and showers to help offset this drawback.

2    Short/medium-term options for harbour improvements
2.1    Dredging (harbour, approach channel, river channel)
Highland Council have a budget and plans in place to suction dredge the harbour and excavate the river/approach channel in late 2017. Dredging going ahead is subject to a license for disposal of harbour dredgings to sea from Marine Scotland.
2.2      Installation of additional pontoons/fingers
The shortage of berths in the harbour could be overcome by installation of an additional, short pontoon (with finger berths on the south side and alongside berths on the north side) for small boats at the north end of the basin (see figure 1). This pontoon could be secured by anchoring/chain guys to minimise installation costs, and connections could be made between this and the existing pontoons by pontoon walkways which would provide additional visitor berths and income.  The additional small boat pontoon could accommodate 20 such craft and both reduce the waiting list as well as free up longer finger berths more suitable for bigger boats.  This would increase the revenue of the harbour by about £10,000 per annum.
Pontoons are thought to be available for use in Nairn harbour/marina and this should be investigated by the Council asap.
2.3     Establishment of buoyed/perched channel and improvement of sector lights
The advantages conferred by the dredging planned in 2017 (see 2.1) will be enhanced by establishment of markers to assist visiting vessels in navigating the dredged approach channel. This “marking” could comprise 2, large semi-permanent seaward channel buoys and smaller, inner channel markers using either anchored buoys or perches. Seaward identification of the marked channel would be facilitated by installation of brighter sector lights on the training walls. These features for improved harbour access should be included in future marketing vehicles for attracting harbour visitors such as “Welcome Anchorages”, “Visit my Harbour”, almanacs, pilots as well as more locally based web-sites etc.
2.4     Installation of power and water services to pontoons
Highland Council has plans in place for 2017 for providing metered power and water on the existing pontoons and this will assist in attracting more visiting vessels as well as help to retain local berth holders under pressure from increasing berthing charges.
2.5     Installation of “deeper draft” transit/visitor berths in the river channel
Excavation of the approach and river channel offers the opportunity for installation of two chain/ring wall berths on the W side of the river, using the sheet-piled section, for deeper draft vessels. These berths would be cheap to install and a trial of a single berth would indicate interest, particularly from larger, Scandinavian yachts on passage to and from the Caledonian Canal. 
2.6     Installation of barrier to wind-blown sand
A low wall or fence (with possible amenity planting and viewing platform) north of the sailing club yard and parallel to the harbours west quay and car park will prevent the bulk of wind blown sand from being deposited in the harbour, and require much less frequent clearance of trapped sand compared to the current car park clearance work by the Council. This should be self funding.
2.7     Introduction of facilities for the disabled
 Installation of a “bosun's chair” lift on the hammerhead of one of the existing pontoons is required to facilitate boat access for those with disabilities. Ramp access to harbour water-sports facilities will also be required. The sailing club plans to build a disability access ramp to the clubhouse in 2017, and has recently acquired 2 “Challenger” trimarans to offer sailability opportunities.
2.8     External funding opportunities
There are numerous funding sources for smaller scale harbour developments which are associated with improving access for disabled, tourism and job creation. The “Portsoy” and “three harbours” models should be further investigated.
2.9     Traffic calming measures
The harbour perimeter suffers from speeding traffic late into the night, particularly at weekends. Measures to control this such as speed ramps and/or cameras would make the harbour environs much more attractive to visitors and assist local berth holders/visitors. Installation of speed ramps was agreed by Highland Council early in the year, but has not occurred.
2.10     Engaging the wider community in harbour/coastal activities
A key part of future harbour development involves the process of engaging a wide cross section of the Nairn community in a shared vision. Projects/activities such as coastal rowing where a community-built skiff could be rowed by all ages should increase public awareness of the harbour, help attract community funding, and complement Nairn's existing water sports clubs (Sailing and Kayak clubs). High profile water sports events such as open water swimming and triathlon will also garner community support.

3    Longer-term options for harbour improvements
Longer-term goals for harbour development are a key part of a vision that can be shared for harbour development, and provide essential preparation should opportunities become available to compete for larger scale funding.

3.1    Engineered harbour solutions
The long-term sustainability of Nairn harbour will require engineered solutions , such as a new, deep water harbour connect by a pier (with well spaced piles/pillars). Such a structure would accommodate the perpetual long-shore drift that challenges the current harbour by allowing it to pass through.

Prior to the building of a new, deep water harbour, the sustainability of the existing harbour could be greatly improved by installation of a Venturi deflector to increase river flow velocity past the harbour entrance and minimise silt deposition.

3.2     A recreational and storm surge dissipation area upstream of the current harbour
Re-instigation of the “Maggot” with a sill gate/weir-controlled water level would offer flood protection to the Fishertown by providing an area to absorb storm surges in conditions of northerly storms coupled to high tides and river flow.  It would also complement the harbour by providing a protected water sports area for dinghy sailing, kayaking, rowing, paddle-boarding and wind-surfing.
3.3     World-class water sport facilities
For Nairn to be at the forefront of national and international water sports, state-of-the-art facilities are required which can accommodate the current clubs and attract new water sports to Nairn. These should also enable hosting of major water sports events, with facilities for large numbers of participants and associated equipment. They should also incorporate facilities (harbour information centre, toilets, showers, laundrette etc) for crews of visiting craft and the wider public.
3.4     External funding opportunities
The funding required for the longer-term harbour development goals is very considerable and will necessitate co-ordination between different interest groups and other stakeholders.  There are a number of possible target providers, but funding from sources such as Leader grants and the Coastal Communities Fund will not be accessible after Brexit.


Silty said...

All sounds wonderful utopian suff but in light of the current financial situation I do wonder if enough money will be found to do much if any of this work?

Anonymous said...

all this crap,and folk living off food banks and homeless folk living rough priorities are all wrong
the messiah/

Anonymous said...

More parking for boats and elitist entertainment for a handful, no doubt costing an arm and a leg.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, the mind boggles sometimes as my mum used to say. So many people happy to put an idea down but without the ability to think the idea through to the conclusion. I mention these points as someone who doesn't own a boat, will unlikely ever to be able to afford a boat and if I could afford one wouldn't want one anyway.

- there is a lack of money around but that doesn't mean it's non existent if something can be shown to add value to the local area
- yes there are too many people reliant on food banks etc but it's something like this that could bring more money to the town
- more money in the town = more jobs = more money for the people in the town
- yes it may serve a large element of the elitist but that's where the money is (whether we like it or not)

I know you can never please some people but at some point something has to change and for that to happen people need to support something.

another anon said...

Agree with you anon


The real wourld

more money in the town = more jobs = more money for the people in the town
Housing being built =more people to spend money = more jobs to build and maintain = more foot fall on the High street
And it was the same people who objected to more housing being built
So if you want to support something try getting housing built for those who need them.
THE wating list for housing is far greater than 32 for boats and dumping thousands of tons of silt on the beach.
Did your mother never tell you?? SOME PEOPLE DO LIVE IN A FANATIC WORLD

Auld Fisher said...

Interesting proposals but I would echo the term Utopian.
The harbour is badly in need of repair but there is no economic benefit for Nairn in the shape of a few visiting yachts. Great ideas and great plans but who will really benefit?

D.Ross said...

I would suggest that most of the items in the first parts upto 2.9 section are what I would class is essential infrastructure maintenance of the harbour, which has been sadly lacking due to various reasons. I do think that we need to spend money on keeping the basics of the harbour etc in good condition.

However money for other ideas beyond that I would suggest would be better spent in improving the other basic infrastructure of the roads etc. Quite a few in the Fishertown are so badly de-laminating that they are reverting to gravel tracks! (I do not think we need to be that "authentic" in the conservation area.)

Speed bumps & boy racers, very old topic, for at least the past 20yrs this has been a problem which has never been properly sorted out! Speed bumps are NOT the answer, as the emergency services don't like them. If you intend on having a nice water sports place & you have to move a spinal injury casualty out, the last thing you need are speed bumps! Why did HC not make Harbour St 20MPH like parts of Fishertown?

As for building other facilities & retail?? There were shops built in the ground floor of the round tower. I remember when they first opened, & have seen them close & be converted into flats. I would suggest that the demand is not there!

As for re-flooding the Maggot to stop the Fishertown from flooding & then using it as a sheltered teaching place for watersports:- To get the required depth for reliable watersports you would have to remove part of the river bank, dig out part of the Maggot & then "bund" (embankments) the outer landward reaches to make certain that it does not flood further inland towards the flats, golfcourse etc! Fishertown is built on flood plain & the lower part is low, & looking at the various scenarios on the SEPA interactive map I would state that flooding from the sea will still happen in Fishertown even if you dig out the Maggot.

Anyway I wonder what the existing land based sports users of the Maggot would think of being ousted by watersports uses!

At least the previous bright ideas from Cllr Green of cruise ships & dirt bike/buggy racing all over the east beach have not been mentioned, so far!

Joe Telfer said...

This is a creeping land and water grab by the same old harbour clique who are never content with the tidal harbour that is Nairn. The £10,000 that it would supposedly generate goes to the Highland council - not to Nairn. The Idea that Yachts would stop at tidal Nairn with a 4 hour tidal window is laughable. With the east to west sand bar drift, Nairn Harbour is a non starter and will always silt up unless dredged on an almost annual basis. This is just another try at taking over the lower river for the kayak / canoe lot. They tried 10 years ago, and the plan then was for a canoe slalom course with steel wires strung across the river, Ideal for tearing the wings off Swans and ducks flying in or out. Sadly there is no mention of the wildlife that already generates foot fall 365 days a year at no cost to the taxpayer. Councillor Green said my timing was wrong with the petition, I don't think so, for I smelled a rat sometime back that moves were afoot to get into the lower river.
This is a huge costly plan to benefit a few, people don't go on holiday to view boats sitting in a north facing tidal harbour in the north of Scotland.
The money would be better spent on more worthy causes within Nairn.
You have my blessing from the bailey bridge northwards but we will continue to defend the rights of the indigenous river wildlife since they cant speak for themselves. Birds don't vote, but we do.

Anonymous said...

The real would-

My mother told me a lot of things, fanatics was probably not the biggest topic of conversation though!

I agree with housing but i think you'll find that theres not a lot of opposition to housing,,, just where it goes ie not Nairn south, rather Sandown. You are right about more houseing = more people etc etc....

Theres no silver bullet on making Nairn better.... It requires a range of solutions.

Anonymous said...

Re Joe

A quick google definition of indigenous- originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native....... Not sure you can claim naturally.

Im all for having them there, however, you cant claim the river for one thing... Like all of Nairn its there to be shared by all.

Murd Dunbar said...

How one track thinking and selfish can they get? Dig up the Maggot for water sports!.
It would more like them to block of the harbour fill it in with the rubble from the river to the required depth and use that for there water sports. They could then tie there boats up on the river side as was done before or just sell or move to INVERNESSS they have A new marina and I don't think it is tidal?
I have said before the simple way to prevent the river from flooding Fisher town
is to allow the water on to the golf course!
Better to lose A days golf than people to lose there homes.

Anonymous said...

Reading the comments made so far I'm afraid I've burst out laughing at a few. It's a wonder that the harbour and fishertown have ever progressed from the day they were built as clearly some people don't like change of any sort.

I for one wish the harbour group well with their proposals and hope to see at least some of their ideas come to fruition. Other than Michael Green I've not heard any other Nairn councillors come up with any ideas for Nairn, but then maybe they too don't like the idea of change either?

I expect the naysayers will continue to fill the Gurn with their complaints, I can only thank them for the entertainment

Anonymous said...

Really murd? Let them go to Inverness? That really does show how backward some peoples thinking is.... Just let people go elsewhere, we dont need them to come here... Dear me, crazy stuff!

Anonymous said...

If the harbour is so run down and boats can only get out at high tide why don't Highland Council save money and fill it in? The harbour area is in desperate need of more car parking of late and this would be an ideal space. Maybe facilities could be setup for camper vans, this would be a big plus for the area and visitors would still come to park their cars and look out over the sea or walk along the pier


Crazy stuff
. You never said A truer word DIGGING up the Maggot---DUMPING thousands of dredgings on the beach. To me is just as crazy
As for saying they can go to INVERNESS.Only Repeating what has been said often enough Inverness gets every thing so why be denied A few boats in there lovely new marina.
I still think filling in the harbour and making it a boating pond and water sports will bring more people to the town!

Joe Telfer said...

Perhaps Nairn residents don't realise I was instrumental in getting the Harbour dredged 20 odd years ago, I also did fishing trips, and fished a few creels too,
Even hauled a windsurfer out of the water once. I am in Favour of improvements to Nairn and certainly the best asset we have is the fact that we are a seaside Town. I used to have words with a previous harbour master Bob Clunas, about fitting some sort of venturi device at the basin entrance to keep it clear. He pooh poohed the idea as pointless because the river level determined the depth of water in the harbour. If you dig a hole at the entrance to the basin, you drop the water level in the harbour until the tide comes in. Digging a hole at the entrance is counter productive because the first spate just draws in the shingle and sets the whole riverbed moving like a conveyor belt. This pulls the shingle right down into the channel and only makes matters worse. Somehow or other the boat owners just don't seem to get it, leave well alone and wait until the tide comes in !
I also suggested a sea life centre 20 odd years ago and all weather facilities, the place does face north, and Scotland has very long winters !
However I like to think with age comes wisdom, and sometimes the best things really are free. The scenery, the wildlife, the river, the beach, fresh air, the peace and tranquillity, getting away from it all. These are the things that many people want nowadays, they don't want to be hounded by technology and getting away from it all is important.There is a place for most things, and the wildlife are an important attraction to many. Anything that encroaches, or drives them away from this small river area, will be vigorously opposed by me and the Trust, and I suspect a lot of people in Nairn too.
It's interesting I was never invited to be part of the harbour group while all these grand ideas were being discussed....I wonder why ?

Anonymous said...

I was surprised to read in today's Nairnshire Cllr MacDonald declare the proposed harbour improvements a 'red herring' and imply that there was nothing wrong with the current facilities.

Once again another example of someone who doesn't seem to want to fight Nairn's corner

Graisg said...

Thanks for all the comments folks. A wide range of views expressed, The Gurn understands that there will be public consultation meetings on the harbour development, best get along to one then if anyone has strong views.