Tenby Harbour and North Beach users are being warned of sand dredging taking place over a four-day period from Monday, ahead of the boats’ return to the water next month.

Dredging will take place again this month, which sees sand removed from the mouth of the harbour and deposited at the north end of the beach, with the harbourmaster Chris Salisbury urging members of the public: “Please be aware of heavy moving machinery on the beach from Monday, March 20 to 23.

“We ask that the public please keep clear of the operating area and that dogs are kept on the lead during this time.”

The harbour boats are due to return to the water on April 5 to coincide with the Easter period.

Dredging has taken place annually around the harbour area over the past few years, after concerns were expressed by local councillors and harbour users that high levels of sandbanks that were forming, were causing disruption to boats entering and exiting the area.

Pembrokeshire County Council has come in for heavy criticism of late for not tackling the problem, with some harbour users voicing their concerns that it is becoming ‘unworkable’.

Renewed calls have been made to the Local Authority regarding operational difficulties at the harbour, with fears expressed that the area will become unusable if sandbanks continue to develop at an alarming rate. Councillors and members of Tenby Harbour Users Association have previously flagged-up concerns to Pembrokeshire County Council about the high level of sand sweeping towards Goscar Rock across the North Beach, leaving high sandbanks around a large section of the harbour seabed, making it difficult for boats to get in and out of the area.

County councillor for Tenby’s North ward Cllr Michael Williams recently underlined the ongoing concerns ahead of another holiday season for the seaside town.

“Such are the limitations now in Tenby harbour, it might be time to review the level of harbour dues in particular as they relate to commercial users, as they find it more and more difficult to use the harbour, but the limitations of access to moorings affects all users,” he stated to the Observer last month.

“There should be a critical examination of what exactly mooring holders pay for, and does what they pay reflect value for money? Access has recently become difficult and indeed can be dangerous to visiting fin keel yachts such is the limitations on vessel draft.

“I note that many nautical almanacs no longer offer correct advice to visiting vessels due to the diminishing depth available when entering the harbour,” he continued.

Cllr Williams has also written to PCC’s head of infrastructure Darren Thomas expressing these fresh concerns.

“I am increasingly concerned about the apparent siltation of Tenby harbour that is taking place,” he stated in correspondence.

“I have been a mooring holder for almost 60 years and in that time my ability to float to my mooring has reduced by around 50 minutes. On certain spring tides, my vessel failed to float for in excess of 24 hours.

“There is considerable concern being expressed by experienced harbour users that the harbour is becoming unviable at certain times, and the situation in the Aral sea comes to mind!

“Our harbour master does arrange a dredging of the harbour entrance each spring, but I’m afraid this exercise now bears little fruit, giving only a very short term and marginal improvement, and I fear that is now becoming futile at a considerable cost.

“I’m at a loss to offer a short-term solution, and I am completely unable to offer any thoughts which might lead to an early improvement, with the movement of sand appearing to be in a northerly direction denuding the South beach while building at an alarming rate on the North side.

“I am aware of one long term study that has been undertaken by an experienced local engineer which appeared to blame a subtle change in weather conditions exacerbating the problem, and usually being reluctant to suggest that outside consultants be used, I see no other option at this time.

“I am aware that other harbours in Carmarthen bay, Burry Port being one, where siltation is a serious concern, so it could possibly be a jointly funded approach with Carmarthenshire County Council,” he added.

Tenby’s Mayor and county councillor for the South ward Cllr Sam Skyrme-Blackhall has also approached PCC’s assistant chief executive Richard Brown flagging-up issues relating to sand level issues around the harbour.

“In a couple of weeks time there will be another exercise to move some of the considerable sand banks that have built up,” she stated in her correspondence.

“As you know the current levels of sand present both a danger and a real risk of the harbour being virtually inaccessible on certain tides.

“Although I am pleased that the scheduled work is going ahead, I can’t help feeling that this is no more than a sticking plaster and not a very good sticking plaster at that.

“I fully understand the immense budget pressures that the Authority faces and realise that there are insufficient funds for a bigger programme of works this year.

“However, it does seem that we need to have a longer term plan. I am not expecting miracles but do you think it would be possible to get a group of people together to work out a long term plan and build that into future budget plans?

“It seems to me that this is an opportunity to invest in a longer term solution and avoid these costly annual exercises that everyone recognises are not good enough.

“I know that there is a lot of expertise in the Harbour community and they would be willing to work with PCC on planning for the long term,” she added.

On a visit to Tenby on St David’s Day, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Chief Executive, Will Bramble visited the harbour to meet with staff it is understood, however PCC have remained tight-lipped over the talks.

One harbour worker stated on social media that Pembrokeshire County Council didn’t have “the will, the funds, the foresight or the right people to tackle the issue!”

“Unfortunately the harbour will become unusable on neap tides if the bank continues to grow. It’s already dangerous to get in or out on the smaller tides, especially if there is an easterly wind,” they remarked.

“The current practice of using tractors and diggers for the amount of time and the amount of sand they can move, has passed its sell by date. Its a bank on top of a bank on top of a bank.

“Unfortunately it will take an accident, or numerous complaints around loss of earnings before the council take note and do something to tackle the issue.

“For the first time I can remember the harbour was unworkable last week for at least three days, due to the bank and fresh easterly winds.

“The Caldey mail boat couldn’t get out, one fishing boat was unable to get off his moorings and didn’t even float for two days, and I was unable to get back to my inner mooring on two days. Its not just the visible bank, but the actual level of sand in and around the harbour.

“Tractors are coming this month to take some sand away from the harbour and move it across the North Beach. But they're only allowed to move a certain amount of sand from certain areas.

“Seems it could be a pointless exercise this year and money spent on the wrong option. Time and weather will tell I suppose,” they added.