The first reference to statutory powers for the Cattewater was in an Act of Queen Anne (1708) which provided for the “Clearing, preserving and maintaining of the Harbour of Cat-water”.
In 1847 the Harbours, Docks and Piers (Clauses) Act codified the general powers of statutory ports andharbours. In the same year the Commissioners Clauses Act codified the duties and responsibilities of statutory bodies, which were appointed to administer, inter alia, certain statutory ports and harbours.
The Cattewater powers were substantially repeated in 1874 which constituted the Harbour Commissioners with an “Order for the construction, maintenance and regulation of a breakwater and pier on the Batten Reef of rocks at the entrance to Cattewater in the port of Plymouth, and of approach roads thereto, and of the harbour of Cattewater, in the County of Devon”.
This act incorporated various sections of the Harbours Piers and Docks (Clauses) Act and the Commissioners Clauses Act in order to give statutory powers to the Harbour Master, acting on behalf of the Cattewater Harbour Commissioners and permit them to make byelaws for the better regulation of the harbour.
Subsequent orders, of which those of 1915, 1950 and 1986, 1988 & 2005 only are extant, updated duties and other powers (such as borrowing limits). However the duties and responsibilities of the harbour authority have been added to by many acts, orders and regulations not only stemming from Ports and Harbours Acts but also Merchant Shipping; Health and Safety; Dangerous Substances; COSHH; IMO Codes and many others. In addition they are enjoined to work in consultation and subject to the over riding powers of the Queen’s Harbour Master in matters affecting the safe navigation of Her Majesty’s ships and vessels.
In 1988 the Pilotage Act followed by the Cattewater Harbour (Pilotage) Revision Order gave the Commissioners responsibility as Competent Harbour Authority for Pilotage within the Plymouth Pilotage District, acting as pilotage authority on behalf of all three civil harbour authorities.
The Commissioners Byelaws are under review.
The Authority to Raise Charges
The authority to charge “ship, passenger and goods dues” as considered “fit” is vested in the Board of the Cattewater Harbour Commissioners by the Harbours Act 1964 section 26(2). This power is subject to a right of objection to the Secretary of State for Transport under section 31 of that same Act.
The Power to Collect Charges Raised
By virtue of the Harbours Docks and Piers Act 1847 section 44, the Cattewater Harbour Commissioners may recover rates payable to them in respect of a ship by distraint and sale of the ship and its tackle. Under section 45 of the same Act the Authority is empowered to recover rates due to them in respect of any goods by distraint and sale either of those goods or any other goods held on harbour premises belonging to the person/s liable for payment of the dues.