The barge, moored off Cowes. Picture courtesy of Solent.
PRELIMINARY work on a multi-million pound project to redevelop Cowes and East Cowes through the creation of an outer breakwater and sheltered harbour has started.
A large barge has arrived at Cowes Harbour to carry out seabed investigation work to gather geotechnical data, to be provided to five short-listed companies bidding for the breakwater construction contract.
Five boreholes have been drilled into the seabed, between 20 to 35m deep, to collect samples for testing.
Harbourmaster Capt Stuart McIntosh said: "It’s an exciting time for Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) as these ground investigations represent the final piece of field work that is needed to enable a full tendering process for the breakwater build.
"We anticipate any disruption to be short-term and generally confined to the first week of operation, ending this Sunday, and we are making every effort to minimise any resulting noise problems. The whole process is expected to be completed by Thursday, next week.
"I’d like to thank harbour users and residents for their support during these essential field works, which are the next step towards providing Cowes Harbour with a 400m long breakwater to give marine vessels and the local area vital protection from high winds and tidal pressures."
The Outer Breakwater Project, spearheaded by CHC, was given the green light last month when the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) agreed to provide £3.16m in match funding.
There were fears the project, which has been eight years in the making, was in jeopardy, after the HCA rejected a bid last year.
It is expected to take around a year to complete.