Ramsey Bay Marina – company behind proposals hits back at social media comment

The company behind plans for a Ramsey Bay Marina have hit back at negative social media comment about the project. In a lengthy statement they have addressed concerns over design aspects, environmental impact, flood risk and economic benefit.

The full statement:

Following recent social media comment, the Board of Ramsey Marina Limited (“RML”) wish to clarify their proposals for the marine leisure centre and marina in Ramsey, and address concerns that have been raised.

The Ramsey Bay Marina development has always been intended to provide a major public marine leisure centre for the entire population of the Island, with the beach facilitating increased leisure activities so that many more people can enjoy the pleasure of Ramsey Bay than at present.  As a public facility, it will have no restrictions in terms of public access – it will be open for all to use and enjoy.

Inclusive and sympathetic design

Since RML first launched the project in 2019, much development of the design has taken place.  The marina has, in effect, been rotated by 90 degrees anti-clockwise, opening up the gap between the Queen’s Pier and the marina, requiring only seven hectares (as opposed to 12 hectares previously) of the beach to be reclaimed.  Four of these seven hectares will be a landscaped area for the public to use and walk their dogs at any stage of the tide with only three used for the development itself.

RML is proposing to create a new all-tide beach at the south-west corner of the development for general public use.  It will be, in part, protected by a large public slipway, and look onto the Queen’s Pier.  It would have disabled access to encourage its use by all residents.

The public slipway has been deliberately enlarged as RML foresees much demand for a protected all-tide launching ramp for RIBs and trailer fishing boats as well as other boating activities such as sailing, paddleboarding and sea rowing.

In short, the development is designed for individuals and families to enjoy the use of Ramsey Beach and the Bay.

Environmental impact

RML is keenly aware that the proposed location is within the Ramsey Bay Marine Nature Reserve. In developing the concept, much attention has been paid to the environmental issues, particularly regarding the rock armour that will be used around the breakwater.  Inevitably, with a structure such as this, the environment will be affected.  In discussing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) with potential consultants, it has been pointed out that rock armour breakwater is generally accepted as one of the best ways of creating a new marine eco-system both above and below water, and has been used successfully in many parts of the world.  That is why artificial reefs are constructed.  This will increase the number of spawning fish and crustaceans in the bay, as well as providing excellent breeding grounds for sea birds.

Ramsey’s eel grass has attracted a lot of comment, particularly given its ability to store carbon. There is no eel grass where the marina will be located.  However, the eel grass is now seeding itself beside the Queen’s Pier and mooring dolphin, as the seeds have been “caught” by the structures.  It therefore stands to reason that, with the tidal current heading northwards in the Bay for the 80% of the time, seeds will be carried along the toe of the breakwater.  As with the nearby structures, eel grass is very likely to propagate along the toe of the breakwater.

A full EIA study is expected to confirm these net benefits in the coming months.

Ramsey flood risk

RML has also taken into account the flood risk to Ramsey.  A report commissioned by the Isle of Man Government[1] ranks Ramsey as the location that has the highest risk of flooding on the Island with a 1 in 10 year risk.  The report’s assessment is that, if such a flood takes place, it would inundate over 1,000 properties at a cost of over £113m.  Rising sea levels make this ever more likely in the decades to come. 

The Department of Infrastructure have recently published their proposals for the flood protection of Ramsey [2]. Their proposed development of south promenade would involve a new 7m high concrete sea wall and a concrete or stone armour revetments extending 19 meters beyond the existing sea wall. The estimated cost could be in the region of £10m-£15m just for the south beach development, not including any further developments north of the existing harbour entrance. RML’s proposed marina development would remove the need for the bulk of this work.

Funding and economic benefits

Many marinas around the UK are assisted with local government funding. As this is unavailable in the Isle of Man, the marina has, by necessity, to be a private sector initiative, and like most private sector marinas, a parallel development generates the means to pay for the structure of the marina.  RML will only build the minimum number of residential units required to cover the cost of the breakwater and the marina.  

In terms of benefits to the Island, based on reports from Scottish, Irish and Welsh marinas[3], as well as on input received from RML’s advisors, RML estimates that the development could generate between 200-300 jobs, and that the local economy and Ramsey shops, in particular, could benefit by up to £30m per annum of increased visitor expenditure. It is further estimated that increased VAT, NI and Income Tax arising from these figures would amount to between £50m and £60m during the first 10 years of the marina operation, generating positive income for the Island’s Treasury.  

Skilled engineering jobs would be created to support the maintenance and repair of the recreational vessels. An existing example is the Wight Shipyard in the Isle of Wight, which was run down and unoccupied for some 40 years, but now employs 120 skilled craftsmen who work alongside around 20 apprentices.

In short Ramsey would become a major centre of excellence for marine engineering in the northern Irish Sea, attracting and retaining younger generations and supporting the Government’s aim to make the Island a great place to live and work.

Social benefits

In addition to the economic benefits and enhanced leisure opportunities outlined above, the proposed Ramsey Bay Marina will deliver a number of social benefits including the establishment of a new charity, the National Maritime Sports Centre (“NMSC”) which will provide all types of marine training from beginners up to those wanting professional qualifications for sea-going jobs.