Crucial investigation on cruise liner project announced
A crucial first step towards investigating the feasibility
of dredging of a deeper approach channel to Falmouth Docks
in preparation for accommodating larger cruise liners has
been announced with tenders being sought for a significant
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
The strategic project has been driven by Falmouth Harbour
Commissioners and A&P Falmouth Limited and would see many
more cruise liners, up to 340 metres long, berthed alongside
the docks. It has widespread support and is recognised as
having the potential to bring significant economic benefit
to Falmouth and Cornwall while promoting sustainable tourism.
Tenders for the wide range of environmental studies required
to complete an EIA are being sought through the European Journal,
the standard procedure for a major contract of this nature,
with an announcement of who has been awarded the contract
expected in January 2007.
The South West of England Regional Development Agency (RDA)
and the Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles
of Scilly will jointly fund the £410,000 project, with
the RDA also agreeing to a further funding package of £41,000
towards an additional £117,000 environmental study being
carried out by the docks.
Plans for the docks include a new wharf, improvements to
the existing reclaimed land and a new permanent cruise terminal,
all of which would be dependent on the dredging going ahead.
Falmouth Harbour Commissioner, Captain Mark Sansom, is jubilant
that the funding has been forthcoming and that the tenders
are now being advertised to carry out the environmental studies:
"For many years the Commissioners, together with
Falmouth Docks, have been convinced of the potential of bringing
larger cruise liners alongside in Falmouth; we both share
a commitment and responsibility for the economic well being
of the port and believe this project will help secure a sustainable
future for the port and local businesses as well as further
a field in Cornwall."
Research has confirmed the substantial economic benefit of
cruise ships, which will impact on local shops and suppliers
and also to the wider economy. Cruise liner operations also
have advantages in terms of carbon emissions compared to travel
by air or car, with passengers using coaches to tour around
Importantly, research is also making it quite clear that,
in order to be competitive and attract cruise liner business,
it is essential to offer alongside berthing facilities as
tendering operations from vessels at anchor have become increasingly
unpopular with cruise liner companies and their customers.
Capt Sansom adds: "The Commissioners are acutely
aware of the sensitivity of the environment in this area and
have consequently specified a robust Environmental Impact
Assessment to ensure the environmental effects of the necessary
works are known and fully understood. Any future decisions
will be informed by this study."
This approach is reflected by Stephen Bohane, head of operations
for the RDA in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, who said:
"These environmental studies are a crucial first
step to investigating whether the long-term plans to develop
Falmouth Docks and harbour will be possible.
"We recognise Falmouth's importance to the
regional economy and its potential to attract more and larger
vessels from the global cruise market; the outcome of these
important environmental studies will inform us about whether
those aspirations can be realised."
Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Objective One Partnership,
said: "Understanding the impacts on the spectacular
environment of the Fal and the proposed expansion of the cruise
liner market in Falmouth is critical. Objective One investment
into impact studies such as this ensures the essential link
between potential economic success and sensitivity to the
The scoping of the EIA was widely consulted prior to the
tender being drawn up. Falmouth Harbour Commissioners are
committed to continuing that open dialogue and the company
appointed through the tender process will be invited to liaise
with local environment groups, committees and interested parties
as part of their contract.
The studies will investigate the potential environmental
impacts of deepening and straightening the navigation channel
between the Carrick Roads and Falmouth Harbour to allow larger
cruise liners access to the port at all times of the tide.
Mike Reynolds, Port Operations Director at Falmouth, said:
"Successful completion of this Environmental Impact
Assessment is a vital step for the future of the Port. If
we can accommodate the largest cruise ships it will build
on our achievements in recent years in attracting the cruise
industry to the County and will see significant economic benefits
not only to the Port, but throughout Cornwall."
There's strong local support for the project's
important environmental study. Roger Bonney, Mayor of Falmouth,
Chair of County Planning Committee, Carrick District and Falmouth
Town Councillor said: "Falmouth Town Council is
fully supportive and delighted to hear the EIA is now going
ahead. We understand the great potential of this project and
have played an active role in encouraging its advancement."
Carrick District Council Chief Executive John Winskill is
also optimistic about the project commenting: "It
is the wonderful environment of Falmouth Bay and the Carrick
Roads which makes it so attractive for cruise ships in the
first place. The importance of the Environmental Impact Assessment
in ensuring proper balance in advancing such a sound project
whilst being mindful of its environmental impact cannot be
underestimated and its outcome will be essential in determining
the next steps towards potentially dredging the harbour. Having
said that, and subject to the Impact Assessment, the development
of the cruise liner terminal will be a crucial step in enhancing
a substantial new 'gateway' to Cornwall and its
Tourism experts are pleased to support the project and keen
to see the EIA progress. Bob Harrison of the cruise marketing
initiative Destination South West said: "This development
could have a major impact of the cruise business for the South
West of England. If the largest ships in the world can call
at Falmouth it will showcase what we have to offer to the
lines and their passengers and the whole region will benefit."
He added: "I am going to the US next week to promote
the region and this is a wonderful first step to talk to the
cruise lines about."
Malcolm Bell, chief executive of South West Tourism added:
"We welcome the fact the proposition for a cruise terminal
is to be properly examined both economically and environmentally.
The cruise market is important, especially as the industry
is growing rapidly at the moment. We also know that 40% of
visitors who enjoy their trip ashore are likely to return
for a longer break. Cruises not only offer a short term boast
to the local economy but also longer term benefits."
For further information please contact the Deborah Clark
of Deborah Clark and Associates Ltd on 01872 276276 or email
The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the
Isles of Scilly has invested in the EIA of dredging of Falmouth
harbour project through the European Regional Development
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439