BEMBRIDGE Harbour Authority has bought a dredger in a bid to become more self-sufficient.

It has become the joint-owner of United One, a bucket dredger due to arrive by the end of July.

Dredging the harbour is necessary to keep water depths usable and maintain navigation into and within the harbour, and is done on an ongoing, year round basis.

The inner harbour was previously dredged by pumping silt directly into a silt lagoon on the south side of Embankment Road. The area was then declared full by the Environment Agency and a Solent dredging company was brought in to remove and deposit the silt at a designated spot near the Nab Tower.

Harbour owner Malcolm Thorpe said he often had to wait for dredger availability, and there were regular delays due to bad weather on other contracts.

He said: "This results in the work becoming impossible because the season is already underway, or it causes major disruption to annual resident berth holders and visitors, as boats must be relocated, and pontoons completely stripped down.

"For commercial reasons there is a limited period when dredging can sensibly take place, and for ecological reasons no dredging can be undertaken between the start of December and the end of March.

"This is a major investment and a huge step forward, and demonstrates our continuing commitment to safeguarding the future of the harbour.

"We can now manage the harbour far more efficiently and effectively, especially as we have also just secured a ten-year extended licence from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to deposit spoil at the Nab Tower."

When not being used in Bembridge Harbour, United One will be available for charter work elsewhere.