Ventnor Harbour seaweed removal cost revealed

Ventnor Harbour pictured by Jakob Beck of the Isle of Wight County Press's Camera Club.
Ventnor Harbour pictured by Jakob Beck of the Isle of Wight County Press's Camera Club.

THE staggering amount it costs the Isle of Wight Council to remove seaweed from Ventnor Harbour has risen once again.

The authority has put the 18 per cent increase down to the rise in costs witnessed across all council contracts but it has pushed the bill over £100,000.

Since the harbour was built in 1994, it has suffered from the constant presence of seaweed that comes in from the English Channel.

However, to maintain harbour depth and get rid of smells, the Isle of Wight Council, which owns the harbour, has to remove the build-up of seaweed.

To do this, the authority has contracted the work to Ventnor business Cheetah Marine, for the past few years.

In the 2019/20 financial year, the contract cost the Isle of Wight Council £75,120, which rose by £12,000 for 2020/21 and 2021/22 to £87,420 a year.

Now, with prices rising for everyone, the cost of the contract, which started in April and will run until the end of March 2023, has increased again to £103,155 a year — a rise of £28,000 in three years.

The council's harbour committee did look at the possible alternative uses of seaweed in Ventnor Harbour, and other areas leased or owned by the authority, but there was no budget at the time to take any of the actions forward.

As part of the contract costs in the current 2022/23 financial year, the council has given a £40,000 'contribution' to Cheetah Marine.

A council spokesperson said it would go towards vessel refurbishment.

As part of the future of Ventnor Harbour, the Isle of Wight Council is proposing to bring in a management company that will carry the cost of the seaweed removal in later years.