Jurassic ferry dream too costly

A Stuart Line cruise boat prepares to dock at the beach in Sidmouth. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 50

A Stuart Line cruise boat prepares to dock at the beach in Sidmouth. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 5040-19-13SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on Photo Orders - Credit: Archant

Spiralling costs and a lack of investors to foot the bill have forced tourism bosses to pull the plug on their bid for a Jurassic Coast ferry – despite ‘amazing enthusiasm’ from the public.

Engineers had quoted £1million for a long, low-pitched concrete jetty structure reaching far out into the sea from the eastern end of Sidmouth as part of the scheme.

It would have formed part of a waterborne link between Lyme Regis and Exmouth – but the funds do not exist in the public coffers and there was little incentive for private investors.

Simon Pollentine, Sidmouth Town Council’s tourism chief, said: “It was always going to be a gamble.

“The figures were so huge – there weren’t sources for funding in the public sector or anywhere else.

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“Enthusiasm knows no bounds, but money is a little slower coming.

“It’s a 100 per cent infrastructure project with no immediate capital coming back.”

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He joined meetings with representatives from the Jurassic Coast, Devon and Dorset’s county councils and Seaton Town Council – which would also have needed a £1million jetty to join the route. “The one thing we got was a lot of data, some of which could be used in the future,” added Councillor Pollentine.

“Market research showed an amazing enthusiasm for boats and ferries.

“There’s a huge appetite for it – and I wonder if there’s potential for a low-tech solution.

“There are so many hurdles to be jumped over before it gets built on the seafront in a Regency town on a World Heritage Site.

“Let’s hope the new year brings forward a solution to the eastern town.”

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