A planning application to install new flashing lights, loud buzzers and loudspeakers on the Swing Bridge in Penarth Marina has been withdrawn by Penarth Quays Marina.
The “upgrade” – which it was claimed was necessary to meet the latest Health & Safety standards – would have meant that every time the bridge swung open for a yacht to pass through, there would have had to be a 50-second-long interlude of flashing lights, high volume buzzers and loud Tannoy announcements – in Welsh and English.
The swing bridge – a major feature of the Marina – actually belongs to the Vale of Glamorgan Council and has been out of action and “parked ” since June 2016. Penarth Marina residents have been campaigning for months to get it back into operation because it saves them a long walk around the perimeter of the former dock .
The Penarth Marina swing bridge – when in commission – rotates through 90 degrees to reach across to the opposite side of the waterway. Red lights flash when it’s in transit and a complicated series of interlocked automatic gates opens to admit pedestrians
The Penarth Marina Swing Bridge – seen in this video operating in 2011. The actuality soundtrack on the video – notwithstanding the wind-noise – indicates that the bridge didn’t seem particularly noisy back then – and normal conversations can be heard in the vicinity.
Marina operators – Quay Marinas – had claimed that in order to comply with the current law, if the the bridge was brought back into service it would be required to have updated loud automatic warning systems similar to those at the nearby Cardiff Bay Barrage bascule bridges and the Pont-y-Werin bridge. The marina operators also openly acknowledged they did not want to reactivate the bridge at all, and were happy to leave it permanently “parked”, silent and out of action.
The Vale of Glamorgan Council Joint Services Department which assesses potential noise nuisance had objected to the updated planning application for the new – and noisier – warning systems. Rebecca Athay, the council’s neighbourhood services officer, said when the bridge started operating measured noise levels spiked at 82 decibels (very loud) and it took 3 minutes in each cycle before the racket came to an end. She said “Reopening of the bridge will have a severe adverse impact on residential amenity, as the closest is 3 meters from the mechanics of the bridge.
Now that Quay Marinas has withdrawn its tactical planning application for an “upgrade” of the swing bridge, it’s not clear whether the bridge will be restored to normal operation – with its original lights and its original reduced-volume warning signals – or will just remain “parked” and redundant in perpetuity .