Cowes Harbour Commissioners (CHC) have formally registered a protest to the Isle of Wight Council’s (IWC) regarding the current reduction in navigational depths and clearance over the chains of the new floating bridge.

CHC has requested confirmation that the IWC will restore the navigational clearance over the chains to the previous charted and recorded depths of the old floating bridge.

At their board meeting on 28 July, the Commissioners also reminded the IWC of CHC’s position during the design and consultation stage for the new floating bridge, when the Commissioners had highlighted the importance of maintaining the charted depths (below Chart Datum) of the chains.

A Local Notice to Mariners has been issued over the new navigational clearance depths.

Cowes chart

The Commissioners had also requested that the new floating bridge design would enable the clearance over the chains to be increased, if a capital dredge was carried out to increase the navigational depths, thereby allowing for deeper draught vessels to enter the river and thus future-proofing the harbour and the Island.

CHC did receive confirmation that the new floating bridge design would accommodate this potential future requirement following a study that included the building of a small physical model by the IWC’s consultants Burness Corlett Three Quays.

It has been agreed that further adjustments of the chains will be carried out next week to coincide with the next spring tides. This work is currently scheduled for Tuesday, 8 August and Wednesday, 9 August and will also include further surveying work.

Additionally, CHC has requested that the IWC should review other potential modifications, including to the ebb tide check chains that reduce the movement on the main drive chains during periods when the tide is at its strongest.

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CHC will continue to assist the IWC wherever possible to achieve a successful and early resolution of this important issue for both for the harbour and the island.

A Floaty McFloat Farce group, set up on Facebook in response to the new chain ferry, currently has 141 members.

The £3.2m floating bridge has suffered numerous problems since it entered service in May, including groundings, break-downs and noise complaints.