The Floating Harbour in the heart of Bristol is over 250 years old. Functioning as a commercial dock until the mid-1970s, the harbour is now a major tourist attraction with museums, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, whilst also maintaining a working shipyard. It annually plays host to the Harbour Festival, one of the country’s largest free festivals.
Significant investment is needed to keep the harbour running, and our plans for a new pontoon at Capricorn Quay are a step in the right direction. We are creating a large floating ecosystem combined with new moorings.
The increasing the number of moorings by 32 will provide additional income that will assist management of the harbour and its wider environment.
Combined with an integrated floating ecosystem, that connects nearby protected habitats, to improve homes for wildlife as well as overarching biodiversity value and climate resilience for the city. This is in line with the One City Ecological Emergency Strategy goal for 100% of Bristol’s waterways to have excellent water quality which supports healthy wildlife.
The project will provide a large area of floating habitat that will be both visually attractive and functional. It will transform this section of the harbour into a ‘living water park’, the subsurface forest of roots will provide shelter for fish and ideal feeding grounds, improving fish stocks.
The new reed beds will create approximately around 1,000 square metres of habitat that as an ecosystem will improve water quality, support stronger fish stocks and provide haven for birds. Residents and visitors will experience an enhanced waterfront, with visible greenery and more contact with nature.
The micro-wilderness of submerged roots creates an ideal habitat for millions of microorganisms, which use algae, carbon and excess nutrients in the water as a food source, purifying the water.
The project will enhance the success of five eco-spaces already created in the harbour, including Harbourside Reedbed at Hannover Quay, Millennium Promenade Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS) and Bathurst Basin Reedbed.
The location for this and design is supported by evidence in the Biodiversity in Bristol’s Floating Harbour report (2022), the harbour Environmental DNA (eDNA) survey and Bristol ecological network mapping.
The construction uses materials carefully selected for recycled content and only non-toxic materials are used. Once grown, the system is typically 60% living biomass and 30% marine engineered materials. The proposed pontoon is steel framed, it uses polystyrene marine floats with a hardwood deck-board finish. The location on the water is shown on the image below and held in place with mooring cleats and sunken chains.
The pontoon will be connected to the existing bridgehead (formerly used by ferries), and accessible by a gated footway ramp to match the pontoons. There will be service pedestals and emergency cabinets (lifebuoy, fire extinguisher, etc) on the pontoon, and a floating washroom facility alongside the harbour wall.
Community involvement includes educational visits for local schools and citizen science projects using technology such as underwater cameras.
We are writing to local residents to make them aware of the planning submission and provide more information about the plans.