Commercial leisure craft operations and day charter fishing vessels could soon be up and running at Whitstable Harbour following the installation of two new pontoons on the east quay.

The new embarkation and disembarkation facilities will significantly improve the range of activities the harbour can support in the future.

The bespoke marina pontoons weighing 38 tonnes each were designed and delivered by a specialist company, Intermarine, and built in Helsinki, Finland, by internationally-recognised firm Marinetek.

They were brought into Whitstable on an extended articulated lorry and lowered onto steel tubular piles that had been driven into the seabed alongside the east quay.

Work to fit handrails, safety ladders, gangways and other supporting equipment will take place over the next few weeks. It is expected that the pontoons will be fully operational near the end of August. The council’s contractor for the project is JT Mackley.

Chairman of the Whitstable Harbour Board, Cllr Pat Todd, said: “This has been a complex and technically challenging project, but we are very pleased that installation is underway.

“We’re looking forward to the new facilities bringing major benefits to both the harbour specifically and the town generally. It opens up opportunities for trips to the Maunsell Forts, coastal wildlife safaris and fishing days, which will really enhance the visitor experience in Whitstable.

“It’s an exciting time for the harbour, as the pontoons project is the first of many development initiatives in the pipeline as part of our south quay regeneration plans.”