Cardiff Harbour Authority


AINA Representative: Mr Roger Thorney - Operational Manager, Barrage

Queen Alexandra House
Cargo Road
CF10 4LY

Telephone: 029 2087 7930
Fax: 029 2087 7977


Constitutional status 

Cardiff Harbour Authority is part of Cardiff County Council. The Cardiff Bay Barrage Act 1993 provides for the role of Harbour Authority to manage Cardiff Bay and the Outer Harbour.

Description of navigation

Cardiff Barrage creates a 500 acre freshwater lake. The lake is fed by the Rivers Taff and Ely. Much of the water area is navigable with much of the main water body having a depth of 2.5 metres or more. Care must be taken up rivers and close to the waters edge.

A brief history of the navigation

Prior to the construction of the barrage, Cardiff Bay was subject to a 14m. tidal range. This rendered navigation inaccessible for up to 14 hrs a day. A permanent 500 acres freshwater impoundment was created in May 2001 and with this at practically all stages of the tide vessels are able to navigate in and out of the Bay.

Current situation and use

Cardiff Harbour Authority has a Water Use Strategy that recognises the need to develop the water body that will benefit existing water users, potential water users, commercial parties and the general public. An extensive programme of water quality monitoring is undertaken in the Bay making it one of the most intensely monitored inland water bodies in Europe. Information on water quality and water safety are made available to water users and event organisers. Public access to the water is carefully controlled and managed.


The established boat clubs have traditionally provided the main water access opportunities within the Bay. These clubs have facilitated users for:

  • Dinghy Sailing
  • Yachts and Cruisers
  • Sailing Regattas
  • Sea Fishing
  • Rowing
  • Disabled Sailing
  • Power Boat RYA teaching

Plans for the future

Partnerships with the Welsh Amateur Rowing Association, Welsh Canoeing Association Royal Yachting Association and Sports Council for Wales have been developed. Cardiff Bay Water Activity Centre was opened to the public in 2005 and promotes a wide range of water sports under the name of Adventure Cardiff The Centre is run by Cardiff Harbour Authority and offers a multi faceted programme of activities for those from aged 8 upwards. The water sports offered include sailing, paddle-sport, rowing, windsurfing, power boating and multi activity.

The development of water transport is a key aim of the Harbour Authority and a programme of water taxi landing stages has been established.

Cardiff is a leading visitor destination and to help sustain growth a regular programme of events is arranged. This includes:

  • International Food and Wine Festival
  • Dem Cle sailing - France to Cardiff
  • National Powerboat Championship
  • Cardiff Harbour Regatta
  • Home and European Rowing Championships

The intention is for these events to continue to expand, a catalyst to this is the Harbour Festival held every year.

How we consult with our users

The Harbour Authority meets with clubs and marinas bi-monthly with an agenda that includes events, projects, health and safety. It also meets with land based commercial interests (waterfront partners) regularly. In addition, the Harbour Authority distributes a magazine - H20 - twice yearly.

How we are structured

The Harbour Authority comprises several teams that manage and operate the barrage, harbour, and environmental issues and events. It has over 100 permanent staff.

Navigation statistics

Length/area of navigable waterway

13 km of waterfront, 500 acres

Number of locks



LOCKS 2 & 3








Varies - max 5m

Varies - max 5m




Boating statistics

12 month period – April 2007 tp March 2008
Number of boats using the locks - 9000
Licences/Registrations - Long Term




Privately owned

400 approx

700 approx

Hire – day boats



Hire – overnight stay/timeshare



Hire – trip boat/ restaurant/passenger



Hire – hotel**



Other business/charity boats



Requirements for boating

Boat Safety Scheme

CHA advice compliance but it is not a requirement

Third Party Insurance

Yes - including salvage