Falmouth Harbour (FH) has launched its Annual Report 2022 in fine style with a highly detailed, 43 page long document filled with all kinds of photos, information and statistics.

This must be the most open and transparent Annual Report ever produced by FH since1870.

FH chair Mark Tranter said: "In this, my first year as chair, I take this opportunity to formally recognise the excellent work of my predecessor, Carrie Gilmore, who led us through some difficult times and significant change. We also say farewell with thanks to Gary Tranter, who retired as a Commissioner to be replaced by Gerald Pitts.

"Change has really been the theme of the last 12 months and the efforts of our CEO, Miles Carden, supported by the Commissioners, has led to a revitalised organisation.

"We also welcomed a head of commercial operations, Holly Manvell, who has sharpened up all aspects of our commercial approach. She has been aided by Elizabeth Gooch, our new finance manager. There have been other personnel changes but, as in any organisation, many of our hard-working staff remain to give excellent service to both commercial and leisure customers.

"We ordered a new pilot boat for delivery in 2024 which, at a cost of £1.6 million, is a massive project for us. I wonder if she will last as long as the LK Mitchell she replaces after decades of service."

Joining FH as the new harbour master Miles Featherstone had a baptism of fire with the Mazarine incident, when he was faced with a badly damaged casualty arriving off the port.

Miles Carden, CEO of FH, said: "We are on a relatively long journey and it is good to reflect on the past as we accelerate into the future, a future that is very bright for Falmouth.

"One of my favourite quotes is 'the past is a stepping stone, not a millstone.'

"So it was good to reflect on our fundamental purpose before we take the next steps. If you look back over 150 years, we were created by an Act of Parliament in 1870. In that statute it doesn’t say much about the purpose of Falmouth Harbour. It does say one word: it clearly outlines our principal purpose is to 'improve' our harbour. Our 2004 Harbour Order goes further and states our purpose is to 'maintain, manage and improve'.

"Considering 'improvement', one massive step is driving turnover, so it is good to report that overall financial performance saw us grow turnover from £2.75m to £3.4m, though we sadly made a small operating loss in 2022 of £313,000, which was expected after a tough year operationally due to poor performance of investments, effects of pension deficits, the uncertain bounce from Covid and offset Covid losses from 2020 and 2021."

Falmouth Packet: Income and expenditure at Falmouth Harbour for 2022 (Image: Falmouth Harbour)Income and expenditure at Falmouth Harbour for 2022 (Image: Falmouth Harbour)

During 2022 the port had 29 cruise calls, which in 2023 has risen to almost 50 calls with Ambassador cruise using the port for turnaround calls. From the pie charts FH had record fuel sales, partly down to staycation holidays. The Commissioners contracted to acquire a new £1.6 m pilot boat due for delivery next summer. CCTV was introduced to cover the inner harbour as the Commissioners introduced new safety and and harbour management systems.

Inflationary pressures post Covid coupled with other factors saw the FH team making important measures to keep the organisation on a steady financial course.

Miles said: "We continued to take challenging decisions to change procedures and asset management, and our leisure and commercial prices at the end of 2022 were further pushed with inflation running at over 12%. Some of our material costs saw rises of 30%.

"With continuing inflationary pressures, this now seems to have been prudent and has allowed us to continue to provide an excellent service and continue to invest into visitor facilities. We hope that customers will see more normality as we go forward."

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The protection of sensitive habitats and ecosystems such as the maerl and seagrass beds, along with habitats for fish and shellfish, features high on the Harbour Authority agenda. The organisation has developed strong links with many environmental and conservation groups to protect and enhance the marine environment.

In 2022 Falmouth Harbour conducted a trial of an Advanced Mooring System (AMS) at Flushing. The trial was part-funded through the Tevi Project. Falmouth Harbour are keen to learn more about how AMS perform in our waters, as the use of AMS over areas of sensitive seabeds such as seagrass and maerl could be one way we could work with harbour users to reduce physical impacts from mooring and anchoring on the seabed below.

See the full report at www.falmouthharbour.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Falmouth-Harbour-Annual-Report-2022.pdf

Looking ahead to next year, 2024 will see new challenges for FH as it continues with the delivery of ZENOW (Zero Emissions Network of Workboats) project with partners that has received £4.1 million in grant funding from Innovate UK, with a new electric rib arriving in the port as a part of this project.

The European cruise market is expanding with Falmouth having just had a record year for calls with many more scheduled for 2024/25.

Operations with the Open Skies drone project that was trialled here this year will go forward. All eyes will be on the FLOW (Floating Offshore Wind ) programme planned for the Celtic Sea along with opportunities that may arise for Falmouth.