Plans to upgrade the currently-dormant Penarth Marina swing-bridge may result in local residents having to endure rather more than just the “put-put” of a passing pleasure boat.
The upgrade – to meet the latest Health & Safety Standards – means that every time the bridge swings open for a yacht to pass through, there will be a 50-second-long interlude of flashing lights, high volume buzzers and loud Tannoy announcements – in at least two languages.
The flashing lights, louder buzzers and bi-lingual voice-warnings are deemed necessary to comply with the latest Health & Safety legislation .
Penarth Marina residents had been campaigning for months to have the operation of the Swing Bridge at Town Quay brought back into use – it saves them a long walk. But perhaps they hadn’t quite bargained for the consequences.
Marina operators Quay Marinas say that to comply with the current law, the bridge is now now required to have automatic warning systems similar to those at the nearby Cardiff Bay Barrage bascule bridges and the Pont-y-Werin bridge.
The planning application for the upgrade says that the new lights to be fitted have to be “bright enough to be visible in sunlight” and the audible alarms have to be “loud enough to warn those people on the bridge, those who may be approaching – and also approaching vessels”
Marina residents may also be dismayed to hear that the new audio warnings “will operate at sound levels similar to those on the Barrage Bascule Bridges” and that the volume of the safety announcement will be “adjusted” to ensure it’s audible in all weather conditions.
Before it was taken out of commission, the Marina Swing Bridge had its existing audible alarms reduced in volume to just a low buzz . However, now those muted alarm loudspeakers are to be returned to what the Marina describes as “their normal operating levels”.
What’s more, 2 additional flashing light units – with additional audible alarms – will be installed at the midpoint to make sure anyone already on the bridge is made aware it’s about to start moving.
The planning application says the flashing lights and audible alarms will operate for 10 seconds before the bridge starts to move and then for the 40 seconds or so it takes to open and close – making a total of 50 seconds of flashing lights and audible alarms every time the bridge is opened or closed.
On top of that “additional lighting” will be added to the sides of the bridge to ensure it is brighter and more visible at night for approaching vessels.
The audio warnings also include voice announcements made via a Tannoy system which will exclaim – first of all in Welsh – “Eich sylw os gwelwch yn dda. Mae’r bont ar fin symud. Plis symudwch i ffwrdd “.
Having warned the Welsh speakers, the system then alerts English-speakers who – at this point – would clearly be unaware of what’s about to happen . The English announcement is to say “Attention please, the bridge is about to be operated. Please stand clear” .
The English version however isn’t an exact translation of the Welsh announcement. The words “Plis symudwch i ffwrdd” actually mean “Please move away” …. exactly what some of those with expensive homes within earshot of the swing bridge may now be thinking about doing.