Boatowners have launched an online petition in a bid to persuade Associated British Ports (ABP) to save Neptune Marina.

Meanwhile the company has hit back at criticism of the plans by publishing a question and answer document outlining how it plans to transform the Wet Dock.

A group called Save Ipswich Waterfront has launched the online petition on saying: "This will be detrimental to local businesses the residents, visitors and the marina as a whole.

"A Waterfront with no boats will destroy the unique continental feel Neptune has for many years provided. 

"By signing this petition you are completly against ABPs plan and wish for Neptune to stay put, this will then be presented to ABP Directors."

Ipswich Star: Neptune Marina was set up in 1982.Neptune Marina was set up in 1982. (Image: Paul Geater)

However the company maintains that by combining Nepture Marina with its own Ipswich Haven Marina which is based on the Island site on the other side of the wet dock it will improve the look and operation of the area.

It has produced a question and answer leaflet and vision for what is now called the Ipswich Beacon Marina.

It points out that the size of the average boats has increased since Neptune Marina and the existing Ipswich Marina were set up in the 1980s and 1990s.

It also revealed that talks started before the death of Neptune Marina founder and boss Alan Swann in April.

The company says: "ABP has been working closely with Neptune Marina for over 18 months to explore options for the future of Ipswich Waterfront, both with the common goal to provide an enhanced marina offering. 

"Until negotiations and legal processes had been completed, it has been impossible to engage with a wider range of stakeholders, including the employees and the berth-holders, who will remain the focus of our ongoing engagement."

Ipswich Star: Talks are continuing about making it possible for Victor to turn in the Wet Dock.Talks are continuing about making it possible for Victor to turn in the Wet Dock. (Image: Archant)

The company also reveals that it is still in talks with the operators of the sailing barge Victor to ensure it is left adequate room to turn in the Wet Dock when the changes are completed.