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County: Plans for hopper boat service along Jurassic Coast
The Jurassic Coast Partnership has applied for the cash from the Big Lottery Coastal Communities Fund to help develop marine links at the western and eastern end of the 95-mile long world heritage site.
The money would allow the initial development of two pilot projects. In the west, the coastal hopper service is proposed between Exmouth and West Bay servicing Sidmouth, Seaton and Lyme Regis.
In the east it would go between Bournemouth and Swanage via Poole, Sandbanks and Studland.
John Wokersien, chairman of the western group, said: “Locals will well remember the steamers that used to ply the coast within living memory.
“With new ways of thinking and modern innovation it is surely the right time to bring back scheduled marine transport to our coast.”
Two working groups have been established in the west and the east.
The Jurassic Coast Marine Links (Western Group) met for the first time in Seaton in April. Representatives included the National Trust, public transport providers, boat operators, Dorset and East Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty officers and marine experts.
The two groups are co-ordinated by the Jurassic Coast Team, which is funded by Dorset and Devon county councils, and chaired by independent volunteers.
Organisers say that the long-term success of a such project will depend on a public and private sector partnership but hope the funding could help develop the infrastructure required and go some way towards creating a sustainable service.
The aim is to link with land-based transport and offering an enhanced, reliable and realistic alternative to road travel.
They say that waterborne passenger transport could help relieve congestion, particularly in the summer, boost the local economy, create jobs and encourage new and repeat visits by tourists, as well as offering a possible alternative to commuters along some parts of the coast.
Coun Robert Gould, Dorset County Council Cabinet member for environment, said: “The funding from the Coastal Communities Fund would help develop the marine links project.
“It would be a tremendous boost to the area if we are successful.”
Sally King, Jurassic Coast visitor manager, added: “We are really excited that people are working together along the coast with the aim of now turning the years of talk into a potential reality.
“The Coastal Communities Funding would be an enormous help to kick-start the project.
“But we need to be realistic and realise that there will be a huge amount of competition for the funding.
“Even if we are unsuccessful, I believe the determination of the towns along the coast will see this project happen in the future.”
Spectacular coastal geology
THE Dorset and East Devon Coast, popularly known as the Jurassic Coast, was inscribed as a world heritage site in 2001, based on its unique and spectacular geology.
The layers of rock exposed along the 95 miles of coast between Exmouth in east Devon and Studland in Dorset record 185 million years of Earth history through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The rocks exposed in the cliffs of the Jurassic Coast are gently tilted to the east, meaning the oldest are exposed in the west and as you travel east from Exmouth the layers of rock get progressively younger and younger.
This gives us a ‘walk through time’ that is seen nowhere else in the world.
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