'Time to act on Severn Sands'
CONCERN is growing over the continuing blight of Fremington Quay by the rusting Severn Sands vessel and the ever-present potential for disaster if it were to break free. Fremington County councillor Rodney Cann says after more than three years enough is
CONCERN is growing over the continuing blight of Fremington Quay by the rusting Severn Sands vessel and the ever-present potential for disaster if it were to break free.
Fremington County councillor Rodney Cann says after more than three years enough is enough and has called on the authorities responsible to get things moving to shift the former dredger and the smaller barge alongside it.
The leader of North Devon Council, Councillor Des Brailey, is also concerned nothing is happening and has commissioned an urgent report from the council estates department on where things stand and what can be done.
The controversial boat arrived in March 2007 and a year later it broke its moorings and ended up beached on the strand nearby. It is said to contain hazardous materials including paints, chemicals, asbestos and tyres.
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The way forward is unclear after a �56,000 plan put forward by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency last year to clean up and dismantle it eventually came to nothing.
It had been intended as a partnership between the MCA, the district council, Environment Agency, Crown Estates and county council. The district and Crown Estates had pledged �10,000 each. Mr Cann said at his request the county council had agreed in September to contribute �25,000.
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He added: "I am quite angry that people are trying to ignore their responsibilities. Everybody is standing back, but we have this ticking time bomb here and it's time somebody got a grip on the situation.
"We have a potential disaster waiting to happen for the quay and the estuary. The way it is deteriorating, at some point in the future it is going to break up.
"It has become a target for youngsters too, but it's also a safety concern for the youngsters themselves."
The plan unravelled after the MCA said it could not legally lead the project. There was also an apparent funding shortfall and confusion over who actually owned the vessel. In the past few months a local man has claimed to be the current owner of the Severn Sands and it is unclear what this will mean to any removal effort.
Councillor Des Brailey said the district had been the first to pledge �10,000 last year to the clean up because it felt it needed to kick start the process.
"As an organisation we're not responsible, it's a maritime problem, but it's in our backyard and consequently we will do all we can to help