Ports & Harbours

Gloucester Harbour Trustees

Background of Organisation

The Trustees are the competent harbour authority for the Gloucester Harbour and their main duties and responsibilities are the provision of a pilotage service, the siting, maintenance and improvement of navigation aids and taking such other steps as may be necessary to make navigation with the Gloucester Harbour as safe as is reasonably practicable. The Trustees also have estuarial environmental duties placed upon them.

The Gloucester Harbour Trustees were originally constituted in 1890 by the Pier and Harbour Orders Confirmation (No. 3) Act 1889 and initially comprised some 22 Trustees. The current constitution comprises 11 Trustees, including the principal operational officer, who are appointed in accordance with the provisions of the Gloucester
Harbour Revision (Constitution) Order 2002. The Trustees meet regularly throughout the year.

The boundaries of the Gloucester Harbour are defined by the Gloucester Harbour Revision (Constitution) Order 2002. It covers a large area of the Severn Estuary and includes the tidal reaches of the Rivers Severn and Wye. Its outer limits commence seawards of the Second Severn Crossing and its inner limits end at the weirs at Llanthony and Maisemore on the River Severn near Gloucester and Bigsweir Bridge on the River Wye. The Harbour is traversed by the Severn and Wye Bridges (M48) and the Second Severn Crossing (M4). Oldbury Nuclear Power
Station is adjacent to the Gloucester Harbour, but the former Berkeley Nuclear Power Station is now recommissioned.

The Severn Estuary has an immense tidal range and contains mudflats, sandbanks, rocky platforms and saltmarshes. The waters of the Severn Estuary can be extremely turbulent and there is virtually no shelter. The tidal streams are very strong and may reach 8 knots or more on full flow and ebb and sea conditions can deteriorate rapidly
throughout the area under certain conditions. The Severn Bore occurs regularly within the upper reaches of the Gloucester Harbour throughout the year.

Organisational Objectives

Principal objectives is safety of navigation policies and related matters, namely providing pilotage, aids to navigation, surveying channels etc.
The aim is to:

Relevant Policies, Projects & Activities

Both the River Severn and the River Wye are notified SSSIs. The Wye is a candidate Special Area of Conservation and the Severn is a proposed Special Area of Conservation. The Trustees have environmental duties placed upon them by both British and European legislation.

Pilotage is compulsory for larger vessels. Great care is required by all vessels navigating within the Gloucester Harbour, particularly in the area of the Shoots Channel which is traversed by the main 454 metre span of the Second Severn Crossing. A Pilot Watch Radar System has been installed to assist pilots navigating within this confined
area under adverse conditions. It comprises three shore radar stations with an engineering station at Sharpness. The pilots are issued with portable units which receive the radar images from each of the shore stations.

Traffic within the Gloucester Harbour includes commercial vessels arriving at and departing from Sharpness Dock. Cargoes include scrap metal, grain, cement, fertiliser, forest products, coal and stone. Both the docks and the dry dock at Sharpness are operated by private sector companies, although responsibility for operation of the lock gates and maintenance of water levels rests with British Waterways. The Trustees do not own or operate any docks, quays or loading/unloading facilities. The remainder of the traffic comprises leisure craft, although there are at least two sand dredgers operating within the Gloucester Harbour on a regular basis. The Gloucester and Sharpness Canal links Sharpness Dock with Gloucester Docks and the rest of the inland waterway system.

The Trustees’ staff are based in a new modular building adjacent to the lock at Sharpness Docks. Administrative and financial procedures are undertaken by two part-time members of staff, while the full-time Marine Officer is responsible for maintaining the Pilot Watch Radar System and supervising the maintenance of the other navigational aids which includes lights, buoys, beacons and daymarks. He is also responsible for environmental management issues and duties relating to the pilotage service.

The British Waterways Harbour Master at Sharpness acts as the Trustees’ Duty Harbour Master under contractual arrangements between the Trustees and British Waterways.

The Trustees currently licence four pilots who operate as the Gloucester Pilots Partnership. The Trustees have an arrangement with the Partnership relating to the provision of pilotage services in the Upper Severn Estuary. One of the pilots acts as Duty Pilot on a rota basis and is deemed, during his period of duty, to be an officer of the Trustees. The pilots board and land at Barry using the Pilot Cutter of the Bristol Port Company and also have the use of the
Pilots Lodge at Barry run by ABP. The act of pilotage to and from Sharpness is long and tortuous and takes an average of 3 to 3½ hours depending on the speed of the vessel being piloted. During 2002, piloted vessel movements exceeded 1,000,000 dwt.

The Trustees have provided over the years, both on-shore and off-shore, lights and beacons. Lit at various times by oil, gas or battery power, these aids to navigation have been improved and make use of mains electricity with fluorescent lighting at all on-shore locations, with solar power and modern l.e.d. lanterns in use offshore. A deep water single point mooring for emergency use by vessels up to 10,000dwt is provided at Northwick Roadstead. The two bridges are comprehensively equipped with lights, fog signals and racon.

Low water inspections are carried out by the pilots on behalf of the Trustees at regular intervals. A comprehensive hydrographic survey covering most of the Harbour was undertaken jointly by the Trustees and the Environment Agency during the summer of 2000.

The Trustees aim to run an efficient, effective and economic operation for the benefit of all stakeholders. The Trustees aim to break-even taking oneyear with another and any profits are reinvested for the benefit of the Harbour. The Trustees also aim to modernise the navigational aids whenever the opportunity arises, especially where this reduces the costs of on-going maintenance and improves performance and reliability and/or has environmental benefits.

The Trustees have, as their overriding consideration, the safety of navigation within the Gloucester Harbour and have implemented the Port Marine Safety Code.