Residents living near Bristol Harbourside fear noisy boats at new pontoon

There are plans for a new pontoon near apartments on Bristol's Harbourside. Credit: Google

Plans for a new pontoon in Bristol Harbourside have been approved despite concerns from nearby residents.

People living in apartments near the Floating Harbour objected to the plans, raising concerns about noisy boats creating an "excessive cacophony".

One said he was previously forced to move away from Brighton Marina due to noisy boats.

Bristol City Council has now approved its own plans to create a new pontoon south of Capricorn Quay which has space for up to 34 boats to moor.

Speaking to the committee, resident Frazer Bridgeford said: “Regular, excessive, disturbing noise will be generated from rigging, the pontoon, engines and crews on boats. It was claimed that reed beds would help reduce noise, however there’s no evidence for this whatsoever. Residents are overwhelmingly opposed to this.”

Another harbourside resident Nick Cater added: “Having lived in Brighton Marina for a year, I can testify that the noise and clamour from rigging from sailing boats causes an excessive cacophony — especially for a residential area. It was not ideal but I expected it, and I was forced to move due to the excessive noise.”

Others raised concerns over pollution as many boats which use the harbour run on diesel engines.

James Scrivens said: “The proposed location is in the clean air zone recently brought in to address air pollution, especially from diesel engines. Under the current proposals, boats will not be banned from running diesel engines. This goes against the whole purpose of the clean air zone and poses a threat to our health.”

The pontoon will be restricted to leisure licences, meaning boats can only moor there for a maximum of three weeks at a time. These licences include rules about keeping masts and riggings tightly secure, to prevent nuisance noise.

A council planning officer said: “The residents have pointed out that the site is within the clean air zone, but from my conversation with the air quality officer, this only applies to vehicles on highways. It doesn’t apply to vessels moored in this location.

“It’s the pontoon that we’re considering today. The use of it will be to moor vessels, but they’re not always going to be there making noise. It’s the infrastructure that we’re considering today, which doesn’t make any noise itself.

“It’s only when there are certain yachts that have equipment on particularly windy days. It will make a noise, but it’s a noise you would expect to hear in a harbour if I’m honest.”

Several of the residents objecting to the plans appeared to become angry during the meeting, and towards the end began shouting at councillors and council officers.

Green Councillor Ani Stafford-Townsend, chair of the committee, said they could object to the boat licences under a separate process.

Cllr Stafford-Townsend said: “Unfortunately a lot of the concerns that residents have are not planning considerations. They’re more tied to licensing and how the harbour authority is going to run it.

“There is sometimes a slightly awkward disconnect between licensing and planning but also, in this particular instance, it’s the harbour authority who is technically responsible for running the harbour, not the council as such. It makes things a little more complicated quite often.

“What I would say to the community is there’s still a chance to get yourselves involved in the licensing process for how this pontoon will be run and organised and operated. That’s something that I urge you to get involved in. You can put statements and objections in and that will help address quite a lot of the concerns. But I know it’s quite frustrating.”

The committee was split on whether to grant planning permission for the pontoon, with three voting in favour and three voting against.

Credit: Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service