Duchy Land Steward Updates Councillors On St Mary’s Quay Plans

Chris Gregory

Chris Gregory

The Duchy Land Steward has said any new Statutory Harbour Authority in Scilly will be given the assets it needs to carry out its function, although he added that the Duchy would retain the freehold on any property.

Chris Gregory was speaking at last Thursday’s Transport Committee meeting, where he gave councillors their first update on plans announced earlier this month to change the Duchy’s governance of St Mary’s Harbour.

Chris said the first steps in that review will begin with a 28-day consultation with harbour stakeholders. They should receive a document outlining the plans this week.

He said it’s designed to “provoke thought” and set out the options for the future, rather than be the final proposal.

And Chris said those options are the formation of a Trust Port, run by harbour commissioners, similar to Fowey and Padstow, bringing in a company to manage it or putting it under the control of the local authority.

He said Cornwall Council still has several harbours under its management, while companies tend to only operate large commercial facilities.

Duchy advisors feel that Trust Port status is potentially the most relevant for Scilly, he said.

After the initial consultation with users, it’ll be opened up to the public for a further 28 days, with reports being placed in the off-island halls and the library.

A final proposal for a draft Harbour Revision Order will then be submitted to the Marine Management Organisation, who will run another 42-day public review during which time any objections can be lodged.

Cllr Marian Bennett asked if the new Authority would take over all the physical limits of the current harbour including the pilotage activities.

Chris said those are described in the original governance document and that dates back to 1890, so they might need some refining.

He said the new management would be handed all the assets they need to carry out their functions, including those needed to generate the necessary income.

But he said the Duchy would retain the freehold and offer long leases.

The off-island quays are owned by the Duchy and managed by St Mary’s Harbour. Chris said new arrangements will need to be found in the future.

Cllr Fraser Hicks wanted to know whether the trustees would be private individuals or representative of large organisations like the Steamship Company or the Council.

Chris said he couldn’t answer that yet, although government guidance says there should be a broad representation with a mix of expertise required to run the harbour operations.

Scilly’s needs are different from most mainland ports, says Chris, and as the sole commercial port on islands, St Mary’s needs to be suitably protected.

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