The 3rd quay – the finale?

By Ellen Turner Hall

Construction of a 3rd quay at Port VendresLast chance to have your say about the 3rd quay at Port Vendres! The Conseil General has proposed a new project to provide better service for its existing clients and allow the port to expand its cruise ship trade.

This time round the project to develop the southern part of the port, in front of the former Tamarins Hotel, is the fruit of feasibility studies to examine the engineering, environmental and commercial impact.

What remains to be decided is whether: 1) to do nothing or 2) to proceed with the construction of a new quay a) preserving the Tamarins Hotel or b) demolishing the Tamarins Hotel.

Built in the 1930s the Tamarins Hotel with its rounded curves and porthole windows is a fine architectural example of the era and in its heyday was renowned as the watering hole of choice to the gilded youth of the Cote Vermeille.

To preserve or not preserve? If the building is restored what function should it have? Archeological museum? Restaurant? Regional tourist information centre? The question is open to debate. The final public meeting takes place on Thursday 12 December at 18h00 in the cinema Vauban, Port Vendres.

The shape of things to come is in your hands.  Everyone in the region can have his say.




This project has now been reopened and will start with the  creation of in Internet site internet, and the publication of info, along with the opening of a ‘register’ and public meetings in the future. The ‘dossier du troisième quai à Port Vendres’ now to be named le quai Dezoum, is in the news again.



The results of the public inquiry on the construction of a third quay have been in the hands of the prefect of the PO since December 2008. On 27 March 2009 he issued an eleven-page document, authorising the project but subject to three pages of conditions. The prefect’s ruling means that all work on the quay must be suspended until a supplementary study of the port can be made. He has called for a complete measurement of the port to determine its depth and, in particular, to calculate the effect of the 3rd quay on the movement of water within the port. If the 3rd quay is constructed, what are the consequences for the safety and the stability of the port and its traffic? For the answer we will have to wait until the end of June for the expert’s report and for it to be validated by the competent state authority.





Construction of a 3rd quay at Port Vendres


by Ellen Hall



Confusion reigns in PV! The dockers want future growth, the fishermen fear increased wave activity in the port, the environmentalists cry Armageddon! Ellen Hall takes us through the where’s, what’s, and how’s of building a 3rd quay in Port Vendres

Construction of a 3rd quay at Port VendresWhere?

  Port Vendres, the lovely natural port on the Côte Vermeille, is a fine destination on any day of the year. Colourful mountains of nets line the dockside. Groups of fishermen busy themselves with boats and tackle. Strolling beside the yacht harbour inspires dreams of faraway adventures. The fish market with its wall aquariums and live lobster tanks is a hit with children, as is the oyster bar with adults.

What’s the project?


The cove of “Les Tamarins” across the bay from the fish market, has been the historical beach of the Portvendrais, home until the 1980’s to a small hotel-restaurant and before that an outdoor bar with dancing and tables under the trees. This is where the Conseil General is proposing to build a third quay with the intention of attracting more cargo and passenger ships, thus increasing jobs.

What’s at stake?

Whenever a large public project is proposed, the prefect as representative of the state asks for an enquiry to study the public utility of the plan. A public enquiry has been opened at Port Vendres’ city hall. The project documentation is impressive in volume, overwhelming in the amount of statistics and background information. Buried in all the paperwork two essential questions remain: Is the building of a third quay justified? If so, what is the effect on the environment?


Questions for the enquiry commissioners:

  • 1. Cultural: Will the area from the present dock to the end of the jetty be closed to the public? If so, what about the Charles Rennie Mackintosh trail which attracts a growing number of visitors to Port Vendres and its museum each year? What about access to the historical monuments, no less than three defensive forts, within its perimeter?
  • 2. Economic: At present the port welcomes on average no more than two ships a week. A feasibility study produced in 2005 by Ernst and Young advised against a third quay and for development of local fishing, boat repairs, the yacht harbour and tourism. The promise of more jobs is certainly a worthy goal, but is a third quay economically viable?
  • 3. Environmental: What is the impact on the UNESCO project? Isn’t there a conflict of interest with the Natura 2000 protection of the natural habitat of the posidonia (seagrass)? How will the increase in port activity affect the quality of the water and air? How coherent is the development of a third quay with the future of this rare and precious bit of coastline?


Who has a say?

The views of the environmental associations, the fishermen and the dockers all differ. The municipal council of Port Vendres has no part in the decision-making process, and can only express its opinion after the inquiry ends. You, however, no matter what your citizenship,can make your voice heard now until the closure of the enquiry on 14 November.

What can you do?

  • 1. Write to “Messieurs les commissaires enquêteurs” care of the Mairie, Port Vendres, 66660 with your questions and suggestions. Your letters will be included in the enquiry registers.
  • 2. Visit Port Vendres city hall, read the documents and record your concerns for the consideration of the commission in the blue notebooks provided.
  • 3. Speak directly to the commissioners who will receive you at city hall Friday, 14 November from 15h to 18h – last chance to have your say.


What next?

At the end of the enquiry the commission reports its findings to the Conseil General, who have a right to respond. The final report will be available to the public in January 2009. Watch this space…

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