The Penarth Marina swing bridge – when it was commission – rotated through 90 degrees to reach across to the opposite side of the waterway. Red lights flashed when it’s in transit and a complicated series of interlocked automatic gates opens to admit pedestrians

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to install new flashing lights, loud buzzers and loudspeakers on the Swing Bridge in Penarth Marina has been withdrawn by Penarth Quays Marina.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 – seen as Penarth’s equivalent of Tower Bridge or Sydney Harbour Bridge – was lit up when the 150th anniversary of Penarth Docks was celebrated – but has been out of use since 2016

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 .

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  1. Brickie says:

    With regard to the ’82 decibels’ when they tested the bridge, I think we’d all creak a bit if we hadn’t been moved or maintained to two years. Having lived in close proximity of this bridge for over twenty years, I can testify that it was never a noise nuisance. Its neglect and obvious unpopularity with Quays Marinas is now a great inconvenience to the people who live here.

    • Philip Rapier says:

      Perhaps a Chain Ferry rowing boat size manned by volunteers from the Marina Boating Community would be the answer to the Pedestrian problem. I have used the one on the Avon at Stratford often, I shared an egg sandwich with Sir Ian Mckellen on board once on the way to the RSC. Although Dame Judi declined having just had lunch and about to go on in a matinee of Richard III. Very sociable way to cross a narrow stretch of water and so eco friendly- cheap to run.

  2. Confuseddeanus says:

    We are all exposed to noise and it is part of everyday life. What is unpleasant is excessive, repetitive and prolonged noise pollution of which this Bridge did not and would not contribute. The bridge is an important part of the marina and Penarth infrastructure and should not be decommissioned purely because Marina Quays do not like to have to repair and maintain it. If you have a property exposed to the bridge activity then you would have bought that property possibly when it was in operation and been aware of its presence and impact. It is very concerning to see an important Bridge and feature inoperable.

  3. Alan Gordon Partridge says:

    Right, error one… actually they’re quote good for making a point aren’t they?… Error one, right: Frankenstein is the name of the creator, not the monster. Error two: Frankenstein is a zombie, right. He’s a type of zombie. It’s like people who say Tannoy when they mean public address system. Tannoy is a brand name.

  4. The new sounders will be louder than the existing announcements so the level will be even louder if the bridge is reinstated.

    82dB is loud enough to be above the threshold under HSE noise regulations and workers on the commercial vessels moored in the vicinity will need to wear noise protection when working. The employees in the local offices may also need to wear noise protection during their fag breaks. The HSE noise regulations are not optional and it is an offence for employee to refuse to wear noise protection.

    I’ve read Joint Services Department’s report and it’s quite obvious that it will only take one complaint to them for a prohibition order preventing operation of the bridge. Why should the marina pay for the refurbishment when it will not be actually be allowed to operate the bridge for more than a few days?

    Rather than blindly support this scheme the residents’ association should be attempting to bring the for and against parties together in order to formulate a practical proposal for reinstatement of the bridge. The residents’ association should be acting as mediator not provocateur.

    Finally. Does anyone know what the legal reasons were that it could not be discussed at the residents’ association’s agm?

  5. Paul Fisher says:

    Why can’t the bridge be run like the barrage, only opening on the hour and half hours thus restricting the noise to twice an hour.

  6. Sounds like BS not being able to discuss it at the residents association AGM. Pedestrians need this shortcut. It should be reopened as soon as possible. There is a town Councillor living in the Marina – has he gone underwater? .

  7. AK says:

    What about a hand operated transporter bridge like the one in Newport. The boats could sail underneath the towers, no audible signals would be required, and users would get some healthy exercise.

    • It’s the marina residents’ association that want the crossing so they should be providing the operatives for the ferry.

      It only needs to be operatives during the opening hours of the Compass Cafe of course. This is what this is all about of course. People are too lazy to spend the extra couple of minutes walking to the cafe via the lock.

  8. daipop1 says:

    Thank goodness Quay Marinas have had the sense to withdraw the fictitious “upgrade” to the swing bridge & they should now be sued for “Specific performance” in breach of contract unless they bring the swing bridge back into service immediately – as an added apology they should provide all Marina residents on the bay side with £50 vouchers for Pier 64 or The Custom House

  9. John says:

    Martin coffee, I toatally agree an extra 200 yard walk to the lock (lazy devils). Unfortunately the new health and safety procedures would have been a disaster for residents living on the marina ( not just nearby). You can hear the barage noise poloution across the marina imagine if it was coming from town quay.. Maybe the reason why at least 38 residents objected wholeheartedly to the planning Application (Penarth daily news should report that a large majority of residents objected)
    The residents association do not understand the strength of feeling on the marina against the reinstall – however the quiz night is still going strong!!!

    • The residents’ association puzzle me. They’re supporting reinstatement of the bridge with all guns yet have never consulted all of the affected residents. They have social events so I can only assume they formulate their policies from the subset of residents that attend these gatherings.

      Was anyone at their quiz last night and able to report on their latest bridge update?

  10. AK says:

    Next they’ll be objecting to rattling rigging or wind noise through the masts.

  11. Confuseddeanus says:

    I would further comment by adding the following points;
    Have all means of warnings been explored EG masking the light from the residents as much as possible limiting the sound to the minimum and providing vibrating buttons for the blind.
    Was the previous warning system to standard and if so residents can surely not object to this being reinstated as they bought their property knowing that this was in place
    If I use a public route anywhere have I not as much right to that route as local residents?
    There are alternatives to using this route but in this time dependent age seconds and parts of seconds are taken into account in all journeys.
    Are all these barriers being put up (pardon the pun) so that Marina key cannot find a resolution that is satisfactory to everybody and maintains use of the bridge?

    I hope this doesn’t remain a bridge over troubled water!! 🤔😁🤓

  12. John says:

    So i thought i might enlighten a few of you whingers who do not live anywhere the beautiful penarth marina. Here is the report from the joint regulatory people Last Novenber
    Ps i pointed this out to Vaughan Gethin AM a month ago – bizzarly we have not heard a peep from him since- please before you make comments and make yourself look daft do a small amount of research.

    Rebecca Athay of Joint Regulatory Services says that on a site visit to the bridge on November 24th last year Background noise readings were taken between 13:50 and 14:15. Background noise levels were averaging around 43dB. When the swing bridge started operating noise levels spiked at 82dB and it took 3 minutes to go back to 43dB (this is including the barrier opening on the other side of the bridge).

    Ms Athay goes on to say 82dB is very loud, but on top of the noise level movement of the bridge included a grinding and banging noise would contribute to being both intermittent and tonal. 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.

  13. Clive Jones says:

    Penarth is fast becoming a home for vanity white elephants.

  14. Louiseholistic says:

    Penarth marina is not beautiful. It is overdeveloped with unattractive housing, not enough designated parking for residents or visitors and far too much unsightly litter in the water. It could have been so much more attractive – another missed opportunity to enhance not spoil our local environment here in Penarth.

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