fishing unite compensation

Plymouth fishing and local MP, Luke Pollard unite in demand for compensation for fishers inconvenienced by works to Sutton Harbour floodgates

Plymouth fishermen continue to be frustrated by the lack of information on how compensation claims arising from the Environment Agency’s flood defence work at Sutton Harbour locks will be processed.

Almost two-weeks on since reporting on safety concerns raised by the fishermen of Plymouth Harbour, The Fishing Daily is still waiting for comment promised for the middle of last week. The Fishing Daily recently reported on safety concerns raised by local fishermen, grave concerns that have been echoed by local Labour MP, Luke Pollard and Maritime Lawyer, Andrew Oliver.

In the days that have passed since the promised comments expired, The Fishing Daily has learned that the Environmental Agency’s (EA) partner in the Sutton Harbour Lock Gates restoration project, Sutton Harbour Group (SHG), is refusing to provide basic facilities such as the loading of ice, clean fish boxes and pot bait for vessels, necessary to return to sea directly from Trinity Pier.

For many this means that Trinity Pier is simply not fit for purpose and are forced to operate out of Sutton Harbour while lock gate restrictions are in operation.

Luke Pollard MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport said: “This is just another failure demonstrating the inadequate planning that has marred this project from the start.

“Our fishers are losing fishing time and working additional hours to find work arounds.

“Despite multiple requests for details from fishing groups, individual businesses via emails and in meetings no one seems willing to set out what and how the compensation scheme should work.

“The EA should without further delay publish a comprehensive plan of how the issues of compensation will be implemented and start getting some money to the businesses that are affected.

“This year I have written on multiple occasions to the Minister, and I shall be writing again to ask her to step in and take control of this chaotic situation.”

The lock gates at Sutton Harbour in Plymouth will benefit from a £3 million repair and maintenance project starting in September 2022 work september plymouth lock gates

The lock gates at Sutton Harbour in Plymouth

The Fishing Daily has learned that despite the best efforts of the local fleet, many are having to cut their days short to work within the restricted lock gate times, whilst some are losing whole days at sea due to the inconvenience.

Maritime lawyer Andrew Oliver of Andrew Jacksons Solicitors Hull said:

“If the Environment Agency is conducting these flood defence works under powers granted to them in the Water Resources Act 1991 in particular section 165 it is clear that those businesses who have sustained losses incurred as a result of the works are due compensation.

“The Act provides for cases to be heard in the Lands Tribunal, but the vessels and businesses affected are mostly owner/operators, micros and small businesses so I would hope that the EA takes the question of compensation seriously and provides appropriate mechanisms rather than forcing them into court to get what they are due”.

The provision, states:

Extract of 1991 Water Resources Act 5.

(1) Where injury is sustained by any person by reason of the exercise by the [F1appropriate agency] of any powers under section 165(1) to (3) of this Act, the [F1appropriate agency] shall be liable to make full compensation to the injured party.

(2) In case of dispute, the amount of any compensation under sub-paragraph (1) above shall be determined by the [F2Upper Tribunal] .

(3) Where injury is sustained by any person by reason of the exercise by the [F1appropriate agency] of its powers under subsection (1)(b) of section 167 of this Act—

(a) the [F1appropriate agency] may, if it thinks fit, pay to him such compensation as it may determine; and

(b)if the injury could have been avoided if those powers had been exercised with reasonable care, the provisions of sub-paragraphs (1) and (2) above shall apply as if the injury had been sustained by reason of the exercise by the [F1appropriate agency] of its powers under section 165(1) to (3) of this Act.

plymouth fishermen docks safety

The floating pontoon at Trinity Pier which raised safety concerns with fishermen

Meanwhile the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) did offer comment to our previous article on the issues and a spokesperson for the body stated:

“We are the regulator for people working in the fishing industry when they are working onshore and loading or unloading fishing vessels. Good co-ordination and co-operation is vital between the quayside owner and the vessels to make sure that access and egress can be done safely and without risks to health. Consideration should also be given to issues such as adequate lighting, prevailing conditions including tides and weather while also ensuring slip and trip risks are effectively managed.”

The HSE also provided The Fishing Daily with the following background information regarding its involvement in health and safety in situations such as this:

  • HSE investigate reportable injuries, diseases, dangerous occurrences, and concerns raised by workers, the public or others helps us improve health and safety standards. We investigate work-related incidents, injuries or cases of ill health in line with our incident selection criteria.
  • We consider all health and safety concerns and make risk-based decisions when deciding what actions to take.
  • Fishing vessels and their work are also covered by regulations enforced by the Maritime and Coastguard agency. Memorandum of understanding between HSE, MCA and MAIB – GOV.UK (http://www.gov.uk) sets out respective enforcement responsibility roles.
  • The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSW Act) and its relevant statutory provisions cover the safety of anyone at work while they are in Great Britain or engaged in certain other activities in the territorial sea such as work on offshore installations. Regulations under the HSW Act do not generally apply to the master and crew of a ship carrying out shipboard activities. However, masters do have duties under the HSW Act when ships’ crew work alongside shore-based personnel on the ship, or when ships’ plant, e.g., a lift truck, is used ashore.
  • The quayside if used as for work activities should also have handholds on the quayside at water level (at any state of the tide), ladders on quay walls, life-saving equipment. There are specific standards in L148 – l148.pdf (hse.gov.uk)
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