THE future of public access to the piers at Lydney Harbour remains uncertain despite “positive” talks between campaigners and the Environment Agency.

Local resident Dan Marfell, who launched a petition against the closure of the piers last week, took part in a Zoom meeting with Lydney Mayor Tasha Saunders and Martin Quine, Gloucestershire Place Manager for the Environment Agency (EA), on Friday (August 11) to discuss the issue.

But despite assurances of greater transparency and communication with the public from EA, the prospect of the piers being permanently fenced off remains on the table.

Locals have been outspoken in their opposition to the move from EA to put up “ugly” metal fencing in order to block public access to the piers at the end of July.

It has since been confirmed by EA that those fences are temporary while works continue on the sea gates at the piers, but that a new risk assessment means they may be closed to the public altogether long term.

After thousands signed the petition and locals attended the harbour to hear directly from Mr Quine on Tuesday (August 8), Friday’s meeting was set up to open up a line of communication between EA and the public.

Dan described the meeting as a “positive step”, with discussions had about the formation of an advisory committee and forum group to improve communications.

A published newsletter was also requested and is up for consideration by the agency.

Mr Quine gave confirmation that the green temporary fencing will be removed once the works on the historic harbour have been completed.

He said work on the sea gates should be completed this month, but that there was no timescale currently for ongoing works, which is dependant on budgets available.

Last week Mr Quine told The Forester the temporary fence would be in place until at least the end of the year.

Concerns have also been raised about the legality of erecting a fence across the piers because of the harbour’s status as a scheduled ancient monument, changes to which require the consent of the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Dan says the question of permission was raised directly with Historic England, who said that as the green fencing is temporary and not permanent, they do not require the usual planning consents.

Mr Quine again said the decision to close the piers has been made because of a risk assessment produced by EA, a copy of which Dan has requested by means of a Freedom of Information request.

More than 2,700 people have now signed the petition started by Dan just over a week ago.

Concerns about a permanent closure of the piers include aethetic issues, the impact on the health and wellbeing of those who regularly visit the harbour, access for fisherman and the safety of sailors on what has been described as a “treacherous” stretch of the river.

Elsewhere, the site has become overgrown with vegetation, making access for disabled visitors difficult in and around pathways at the site.

A contract is in place and can be raised directly with Martin Quine for areas that have been made inaccessible, so that action can be taken to clear those areas.

This can be actioned by emailing [email protected].