Marina dream at Falmouth docks has sunk, says A&P
7:00am Thursday 7th February 2013 in News
Falmouth Docks is set to remain a purely industrial site, with thoughts of a marina and hotel now discarded by owners who are keen to invest in the company’s industrial future.
There had been fears within the community that A&P Falmouth’s future as a shiprepair business would be threatened by plans revealed by its previous owners to create a luxury marina along with a hotel and residential units.
After three years permission was eventually granted for a 290-berth marina back in 2010, but A&P Falmouth’s managing director, Peter Child, confirmed last week that plans to introduce a leisure element into the yard have been abandoned. “They have gone, there are no longer plans for either of these,” he said.
The Cardiff-based property development company, the Bailey Group, took full control of the A&P Group in July 2009, having acquired a 50 per cent stake in the company three years earlier.
In March 2011, however, Atlantic & Peninsula Marine Services Ltd, was revealed as the group’s new owner and announced it was committed to building on the successes of the A&P Group.
The new ownership has been welcomed by management and unions at Falmouth. Kevan Johnson, chairman of the Composite Yard Committee, said: “We now have a golden opportunity to expand. We have new owners who want to invest in the yard and we have three companies (ship repair, port operations and the Cluster Support Team) who have potential to expand.
“We have owners who want to bring the shipyard back to the way it was – an industrial shipyard – and we should do everything we can to support that. This yard has been here as long as Falmouth has been here. At the end of the day it is shipping that created Falmouth so why not expand shipping to expand Falmouth?”
That expansion is currently being hindered by the lack of a deep water channel which would enable large ships, including cruise liners, to enter the docks. Permission to dredge a channel is currently being considered and it is hoped a decision will be made in the coming months.
“We have done the trials and we have had the first set of results through, which are quite encouraging for us,” said Mr Child. “We have to wait until April for the final results and they will prove the science, prove whether the maerl will survive the dredging. We have always said, and environmental studies show, there is no significant impact and this will prove it.”
The application to dredge has, though, been opposed by conservationists who claim it will damage the marine environment and local fisheries.
A&P Falmouth port operations director, Mike Reynolds, addressed Falmouth Business Club on Thursday when he outlined the importance of dredging. “Ships are getting larger so we need to dredge just to maintain our current business because commercial work we do will be on ships that are too big to get into port,” he said.
“Those RFA ships, the largest of them is the RFA Argus, if we don’t dredge that won’t be able to get in here in five to ten years time because it will be too big to get through the channel that will be shallower and narrower.”
He concluded his talk by saying: “If we don’t dredge we will not die tomorrow. We will still be here for a number of years, but when it gradually silts up over the next five, ten, 15 years, however long it takes, that will mean those bigger ships we rely on now won’t be able to get in.
“In our plan it showed we could maintain a base workforce, but gradually it tailed off and we lose all opportunity to expand the growth. You only have to have one or two bad years and the business dies.”
Just last week, it was revealed that A&P Falmouth had a turnover of £52million in 2012 with a profit of more than £3million.