Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Cowes 'floating bridge' breaches noise guidelines

New floating bridge Image copyright Andrew Cooke
Image caption The ferry noise was described as "disturbing and distracting"

A troubled chain ferry has been withdrawn from service at night after council tests revealed it was breaching noise pollution limits.

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

Resident Jeremy Pocock said the vessel docking sounded like a "car crash".

Isle of Wight Council, which owns the ferry, said the noise was "well above World Health Organisation guidelines".

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Image copyright Karl Love
Image caption Passengers were helped from the stricken ferry when it broke down on its second day in service

Mr Pocock said he had made numerous complaints about the noise since the ferry entered service on 13 May.

He said: "They can't control the prow carefully which comes down hard on to the slipway.

"Stopping the ferry at night has transformed our lives. We can sleep again."

Image copyright Andrew Cooke
Image caption The old chain ferry was taken out of service on 2 January

A report by a council environmental health officer who tested noise levels said they were "loud, intrusive and... well above World Health Organisation guidelines".

His report said the main issues were the "very loud" claxon, the ferry gates, the prow hitting the slipway and the noise of vehicles crossing prows which "at times do not meet with the slipway evenly".

The report said levels during the daytime were "disturbing and distracting" and would "affect sleep" at night.

The council said a passenger launch would operate after 22:30 at night and before 07:00 each morning, while the problems were investigated.

Image copyright Isle of Wight Council
Image caption A report found the prows do not always meet the slipway evenly

In June, the council commissioned external auditors to review the vehicle and foot ferry which crosses the River Medina between Cowes and East Cowes.

The vessel, built by Mainstay Marine at Pembroke Dock, broke down on its second day of service and was then suspended by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency over "training issues".

In June the vessel ran aground three times and was replaced by a launch at low tide.

The council has said it will consider compensation claims from drivers whose cars have scraped their bumpers getting on and off.


Floating bridge timeline:

  • 13 May - Vessel launched
  • 14 May - Broke down
  • 15 May - Service suspended by MCA
  • 7 June - Ran aground
  • 9 June - Ran aground for a second time
  • 9 June - Council said it had cleared "silt build up that caused the floating bridge to ground"
  • 10 June - Ran aground a third time
  • 13 June to 3 July - Taken out of service at low tide
  • 30 June - Broke down due to electrical fault
  • 21 July - Withdrawn from service at night due to noise levels

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