The troubled Lancaster port in 'fight for survival' as sea gate leaves boats trapped

A troubled Lancaster port authority says it is in a 'fight for survival' after a broken harbour sea gate has left its own pilot boats trapped

Lancaster Port Commission operates Glasson Dock on the River Lune estuary with the Irish Sea. It is responsible for maintaining shipping access to a network of docks and quays used by British and foreign vessels.

But now, its bosses say they have to pay for replacement boats to guide large ships to the remaining accessible parts of the dock. They say they are then passing these costs onto the Environment Agency.

The two organisations have been in disagreement over responsibility for the broken sea gate at Glasson Dock. This is believed to be impacting on neighbouring Glasson Marina, where smaller boats are stranded.

Lancaster Port Commission says it now faces a 'fight for survival' at Glasson Dock. The authority is now working with Lancaster Labour MP Cat Smith, a Green Party city councillor, Sally Maddocks, and government department DEFRA to find solutions.


A recent update from the commission read: "Our work boats are trapped and we can only fulfil our port duties by hiring third- party contractors. For a port of modest means, this is unsustainable and we are facing a fight for survival."

Last year, the port organisation submitted a legal bid for new powers to the government. But it also faced criticism and objections, including from Lancaster city councillors who questioned the commission's competence, accountability, and relationships with local residents.

But the commission defended its self-governing structure, its record, ambitions and public consultation.

The commission is a self-governing 'trust port' and is responsible for maintaining access for large ships and smaller boats to Glasson Dock and along the River Lune, stretching from Lancaster to the sea south of Morecambe Bay. It also owns New Quay in Lancaster and runs Walney lighthouse.

Glasson Dock provides port and wharf facilities for British and overseas cargo ships including from the Isle of Man, Ireland, France and Spain. But in February, the port commission warned that 200 jobs were at risk with the sea gate problem.

In recent days, Isle of Man-based Manx Radio has reported that Lancaster Port Commission chief executive Elsabe White has met commercial port users including Ramsay-based shipping and logistics company Mezeron, to assure them they will be unaffected by the sea gate problem.

According to the radio station, Ms White said invoices received for third party ship piloting services are being passed to the Environment Agency for payment. Her next meeting with the agency is on April 15.

Glasson Marina is run by national commercial operator Aquavista which also operates Galgate Marina near Lancaster. Glasson Marina has berths for hundreds of boats and a number of marine-based businesses operate there.