Dee Conservancy is the formal name given to a defined harbour area for which Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is the conservancy, harbour and local lighthouse authority. This harbour area includes the River Dee and its estuary, extending from Wilcox Point downstream of the weir at Chester, seawards to an imaginary line linking the Point of Ayr on the Welsh coast to Hilbre Point on the Wirral peninsular.

The Port Marine Safety Code published by the Department of Transport (DfT) requires harbour authorities to publish a safety plan for marine operations. The Dee Conservancy Safety Management System (DCMSMS) has been developed to meet this Code.

The period covered by the duty holder review is 30th September 2022 to 1st October 2023.

A formal review of the DCMSMS was carried out by the Duty Holder in conjunction with the Designated Person and the Dee Conservancy Harbour Master (DCHM) on 23rd October 2023. The Duty Holder accepts the findings of the formal review, which are communicated in Designated Person’s Report.

Policy statement

NRW is committed to promoting good management of its available resources, so as to:

  • Undertake and regulate marine operations in a way that safeguards the Dee Conservancy, its users, the public and the environment to achieve the standard of marine safety required by the Port Marine Safety Code.
  • Promote the use of the Dee Conservancy and ensure that its economic development considers and balances the views and needs of all stakeholders with regards to the use of natural resources and conservation of the environment.

Plan objectives

To meet the requirements of the Code and our Policy Statement, we review progress against the following (DCMSMS) objectives:

The relevant duties and powers will be kept under review to ensure NRW can effectively regulate and conserve safe navigation within its statutory harbour area and approaches.

The Dee Estuary Conservancy Harbour Revision (No.2) Order (HRO) came into force on the 12th July 2023. Work is now progressing to implement the requirements of the new HRO, which includes the set up of a Consultative Committee and the development of a charging scheme.

The DCMSMS will be maintained based on thorough assessment of risk:

The principle marine operations in the Dee Conservancy have not changed during this reporting period. The DCMSMS continues to be based on and informed by risk assessment. The four separate risk assessments covering marine operations within the Conservancy and approaches are reviewed once every three years, with ad-hoc activities being assessed on an individual basis. A formal review of the DCSMS has been completed in December 2021, with a review of the assessment completed in April 2022.

A comparison of failings observed in other Authorities was made against the DCMSMS, following publication of the MCA’s summary of PMSC compliance health checks. Overall the Conservancy meets the requirements to a high standard.  The Dee Conservancy Management Group is in place and meets twice a year. 

In accordance with the DCMSMS and Joint Procedures monitoring, a full inspection and audit regime has been carried out.

Risk assessments for marine operations will be kept under review to ensure that they remain valid and the controls identified to mitigate against risks are appropriate and effective in reducing the risks to as low as reasonably practicable:

The Dee Conservancy monitors new marine operations occurring in the estuary and where practical engages with stakeholders well in advance of commencement to ensure that appropriate control measures are introduced where required. Risk assessments for discreet marine works are completed when required.

The monitoring, inspection and review requirements, documented in the DCMSMS will be implemented as appropriate by the Dee Conservancy Harbour Master, a nominated deputy, or authorised contractor:

This year’s audit process has again been completed with reference to relevant sections of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency Aide Memoire for Attending Surveyors as found in the latest Guide to the Port Marine Safety Code. The overall level of compliance is comparable with last year’s audit, with all but one previous deficiency identified as actioned.

NRW will provide aids to navigation in order to enhance safety of navigation and meet the requirements of the General Lighthouse Authority (Trinity House):

The Dee Conservancy continues to provide aids to navigation that allows vessels to safely transit the river and estuary during suitable high-water periods. The ongoing review of available survey data allows for changes in the channel positions to be monitored and aids to navigation deployed or removed as required.

NRW will monitor and maintain its aids to navigation to ensure their performance standards meet the target requirements set by the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities:

All aids to navigation are inspected weekly and are subject to an annual planned maintenance schedule. The on-going review of available survey data has allowed for channel positions to be monitored and marked correctly.  NRW as local lighthouse authority continues to exceed the performance criteria set by the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities for all but those on the North Training Wall.

Date: 1 November 2023

Signed by: Gareth O’Shea, Executive Director Operations

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