Backing urged for Nautical College

12 Aug 2008

by Gerry Braiden,  The Herald

Plans for a major revamp of the Glasgow Nautical College, involving a lifeboat launch tower and pontoon stretching almost half-way across the Clyde, are expected to be approved at a Glasgow City Council planning meeting on 9 December.

The tower, almost 40 metres from the southern banks of the river and 12 metres from the surface at low tide, would be used to train the crews of cargo vessels, tankers, and offshore oil and gas platforms in the use of freefall lifeboats.

Crews would either practise full launches, where the lifeboat is dropped into the Clyde at high tide, or simulated exercises where crews would practise mustering, entering and securing themselves in a lifeboat.

Planners have recommended the proposals be approved. However, they have sparked objections from the Glasgow Humane Society, which until recently worked with the police in removing bodies from the Clyde, and rowing and boating clubs, which fear the pontoon and tower would gather floating debris.

Concerns have also been raised that - although as a result of the Clyde Arc, large vessels can no longer travel this far up the river - the main navigation channel which flows under the central span of the neighbouring Albert Bridge would be obstructed by the launch tower. It is feared that the remaining channel to the south may become dangerous depending on the flow of the river, debris and the opening of the Weir at Glasgow Green.

The planners claim both the tower and pontoon have been designed to mitigate such scenarios.

Another concern is that it would sit uneasily alongside the A-listed Albert Bridge.

The plans are part of a new Seamanship Centre, which is part of the proposed New Campus Glasgow, an amalgamation between the Nautical College, the Central College of Commerce, Glasgow Metropolitan College and Stow College.

The current Seamanship Centre is no longer deemed fit for its purpose and will revert to its former use as a boat store and workshop.

The new centre will provide three state-of-the-art classrooms and changing areas.

The tower element is considered essential in that it would allow the Nautical College to provide training in the use of free-fall lifeboats now required by law.

According to the report detailing the plans, the tower and pontoon would appear from the south banks of the Clyde and several of the river's bridges as a "prominent functional structure".

The application will be heard at Glasgow City Council's planning committee on 9 December and is recommended for approval.

Reproduced with the permission of The Herald (Glasgow) © Newsquest (Herald & Times) Ltd. 

Note:  Planning permission was subsequently granted.

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