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More silt in South Pool creek but withies to show the way

On 16 June climate change claimed the Millbrook Inn. We have had 14 months in a row of record temperatures. 2016 is on course to be the hottest year on record – the preceding one was 2015 and the hottest before that was 2014. Planet Earth has already passed the critical 1.5°C and is well on the way to the dangerous 2°C. The poor Millbrook was overwhelmed by a flash flood of water and silt pouring off (presumably ploughed) fields. Doubtless the level of silt in South Pool creek notched up a little further. Fortunately heroic efforts by staff and villagers have restored the Millbrook to life again.

It becomes difficult to see the future (this is a Brexit-free column) but by August the Harbour Board will have put out its draft strategic plan for 2017-2022 for public consultation. Like all such documents, a lot of this is more of the same; but there are some potentially radical proposals as well – such as creating a clear channel through the Bag by removing some swinging moorings and re-providing them on pontoons near the Egremont.

This month will also see the publication of the 2016 Annual Report which records another year of breaking-even, in spite of diminishing visitor numbers. Actually the position is a small trading surplus, with a rather larger reduction in reserves because of dredging. The anxiety remains about the need to build up substantial reserves for the time when all the pontoons will simultaneously need replacement.

Nearer home, South Pool Parish Council has asked for navigation marks in the creek and (I think in a change of heart) Trinity House has suggested that these could be withies. If that is successful in keeping more vessels to the channel, it will be interesting to see if that helps keep the channel clear. I can also report that the Rivermaid is unlikely to run this season. This is not good as the Harbour needs a decent ferry service: but the Rivermaid has neither monopoly nor special privilege to run a ferry, so perhaps it is time for someone else to start one up. Also, to follow up last month’s story, the Egremont seems now not to be leaving in early September, returning in October, but (surprise, surprise) in late September, returning in November. Meanwhile the Harbour Board is to seek legal advice on its options.

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