A NORTH Devon dry dock is now being operated by a different company in a bid to stop further regulation breaches at the site.
The news comes only weeks after the Environment Agency (EA) and Health and Safety Executive confirmed they were investigating Richmond Dry Dock in Appledore and that the previous operators FTD Marine had breached some of their regulations.
The EA had been contacted by people living near the dock who were concerned by the noise, vibrations and dust the ship dismantling yard was creating.
The breaches included using a pneumatic hammer drill, angle grinders and gas torches and working outside the permitted hours.
Now the owner of the dock Simon Maunder has confirmed that South West Metals (SWM), who previously have been in charge of removing the scrap metal from the dock, will also be taking over the dismantling of vessels too.
Mr Maunder said: "The hope is this change will mean the operations being carried out at the dock will be done more professionally. From the residents' perspective this should make a difference.
"Gareth from FTD Marine will continue to source the vessels which need to be dismantled because that is what he has been used to doing.
"SWM will provide a more conscientious and experienced service within the dock with better ability to liaise with the EA and local authorities. SWM has got all the equipment which FTD Marine simply didn't have.
"This change will hopefully secure the future of the dock; so far it has proven to be a good business.
"I will be reviewing the new set up in coming months."
SWM Director Shawn Akers said: "We have more modern equipment that will reduce the impact of works on the community.
"A working dock inevitably produces some noise, vibration and dust; however we will ensure that we are compliant with the regulations and no work is undertaken outside of permitted hours.
"We are sympathetic to residents' needs and are keen to work with the Appledore Residents' Association to ensure we have an open dialogue and can work together to minimise any disruption and forewarn residents of any particularly heavy workloads."
The dry dock reopened in September last year after nearly 40 years of being disused.
Before the dock could be operational the EA had to give the site a permit.
Paul Gainey, from the EA, said an enquiry was on-going at the site despite the change of operator.
He said: "No outcome is being ruled out at this stage, we are considering all enforcement responses; prosecution is still possible. Just because FTD Marine have stopped operating the site doesn't mean the inquiry into the breaches stops.
"We are currently working with the operators and the owner of the dock to reach a solution."
On hearing the news the operator has changed Kevin Jones, who lives metres from the dock, is interested to see if it makes a difference.
Mr Jones has noticed cracks appearing in his house which he believes have been caused by the vibrations from the dock. He is waiting for a structural engineer to give his opinion on the damage.
He said: "I am going to wait and see if it will make a difference.
"I am not moaning for the sake of moaning. If it is quiet over there and our lives are made easier, then fine."