Docks jobs could go

I am a bit concerned over the report by Sarah Howells “New owners in dry dock pledge” (Gazette, January 16), regarding the Environment Agency having received complaints from residents living in close proximity to the Richmond Dry Dock, relating to noise, fumes and odours – not forgetting the heavy traffic in and out of the yard.

Having had “ears to the ground” in close proximity, there is a strong desire to see its operation terminated. I therefore think those who are looking favourably towards future developments, such as Knapp and Hubbastone, whereby here today, gone tomorrow adventures will be only too willing to oblige, had better take on board the fact that the same complaints could and no doubt would be heard in connection with a two-tier shift pattern at Babcock Marine, from residents living in close proximity.

This, of course, will be a problem Torridge District Council would be saddled with. Also what has to be taken into consideration is that the MOD are in the process of designing the next batch of 12 warships for the Royal Navy, known as Type 26 frigates, coming into service in 2020.

Now, I’m not saying Babcock Marine, Appledore, would be involved in their construction, but on the other hand they could.

As the Type 26 frigates will be over 450ft long, they could, like the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, build ports there – or better still extend the dry dock at Binda from its present 400ft in length, another 100ft to accommodate such an undertaking as the Type 26, from stern to stern.

This, of course, is only my opinion, but I can’t see Babcock Marine undertaking such a venture, only to be dogged by the same fate that has befallen the Richmond Dry Dock.

That could lead to a loss of jobs and the continuity of shipbuilding skills being taught through apprenticeships, in preference to short-term employment with the Knapp and Hubbastone developments.

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The sad part in all of this is that when the present workload is finally finished, Babcock Marine could leave the area altogether and that’s something Torridge District Council still have to consider when next they deliberate on the Knapp Marina.

Kenny Davis


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