Studies are to be carried out on plans for a new leisure marina for Berwick.
Although there is support for investigating the potential of a marina in terms of economic feasibility, location and size, there are also concerns from some organisations about the environmental impact of such a project.
These issues will be taken into consideration during the course of two impending studies which have been commissioned by the Port of Berwick Harbour Commissioners, as well as agencies constituting the Marina Steering Group, including Berwick Council, Natural England, Northumberland County Council, Northumberland Strategic Partnership and One NorthEast.
Both studies are being funded by the Northumberland Strategic Partnership and will be completed by July. The proposal for a marina on the south side of the River Tweed at Tweedmouth is one of several potential regeneration projects outlined in the strategy The Future of Berwick - a Vision and Development Framework.
Shona Alexander, director of regeneration at Berwick Council, said: "We are very pleased to have now reached this stage of the marina project. These preliminary studies are vital to ensure we develop the most suitable type of marina in the best possible location to really benefit Tweedmouth, Spittal and Berwick.
"A marina here could offer huge advantages to the town in terms of jobs, business, leisure and tourism and so could contribute greatly to Berwick's successful regeneration." Alan Irving, chairman of the Harbour Commissioners at Berwick, said: "To have a marina here would be a fantastic boost. We would be making the most of our beautiful coastal location and opening up a wealth of opportunities to the town. Sailing, racing, cruising and fishing enthusiasts from all over the country and beyond could berth at Berwick, as they do already at the successful Amble marina.
"The Tweed marina would also be a perfect day's sail from Amble, ideal for both local seafarers and visitors. Whether it's a 50-berth or a bigger 200-berth marina that is considered best, this venture, if considered feasible in the studies, spells out a very good future for Berwick."
Genecon, a leading economic and regeneration consultancy operating across the UK, is preparing both studies, supported by marine engineering specialists Royal Haskoning and property market advisers Ryden. The first will examine whether or not a leisure marina is possible, options for where a marina could be located and the implications of what each location might be, including any environmental impact.
The second study will examine the market potential, the types of potential users, the size of the marina and its links to other facilities up and down the North-East coast.
John Holmes, director of regeneration for One NorthEast, said: "The creation of a Tweed Marina would provide a significant boost to the town and the north-east corner of Northumberland. It could act as a catalyst for further regeneration in that area as well as improving the chances of attracting cruise tourism and providing an additional attraction to the area's beautiful coastline.
"However, any project must be sympathetic to its surroundings and would be subject to an environmental impact study."