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Plans advance for ferry service between Swansea and the south-west of England

07 Feb 2023 3 minute read
Ilfracombe. Photo Olle August from Pixabay

Richard Youle, local democracy reporter

Proposals which could result in a passenger ferry service between Swansea and the south-west of England are being taken forward and might lead to a non-binding agreement, according to the leader of Swansea Council.

The plans are still in their early days, but Cllr Rob Stewart said a working group has been set up and that councils on both sides of the Bristol Channel were looking into clean energy propulsion systems for any future route.

Cllr Stewart’s written update was in response to a question from councillors Francesca O’Brien and Brigitte Rowlands, who asked what was happening.

On the working group, Cllr Stewart said: “This expert-led group would examine a range of key factors including but not limited to requirements of the terminals and those of the craft which would potentially operate across the route.”

But he said progress had been limited due to the ill health of the working group coordinator.

The Swansea Labour leader said the ferry proposal would have to contribute to the council’s pledge to be “net zero” by 2030, hence the clean energy discussions.

Memorandum of understanding

He said further meetings with councils across the Bristol Channel were being arranged “with the intention of developing a scope and memorandum of understanding for the project” – a non-binding statement of serious intent – by the end of March.

Cllr Stewart publicised the idea of a hydrogen-powered ferry service linking Swansea and the south-west of England three weeks before last year’s local government elections.

“This would be a massive boost for tourism and business – to think you could cut your travel time to Devon and Cornwall by half, and of course it would have environmental benefits too: taking cars off the road and introducing green-powered ferries,” he said at the time.

That prompted a bemused response from Swansea Conservatives, who said the idea had been developed by North Devon’s Tory MP, Selaine Saxby.

Cllr Stewart then said it was Swansea Council which had initiated the “formal discussions”.

Hydrogen

Creating hydrogen as a power source requires power in the first place, and it can come from clean renewable energy. This is known as green hydrogen.

Over the years, the pleasure steamer, Balmoral, and paddle steamer, Waverley, have offered summer sailings across the Bristol Channel, stopping at Swansea and Ilfracombe in North Devon, among others.

Devon has a county council and a number of district ones, including North Devon Council, in which Ilfracombe is located.

A spokesman for North Devon Council said: “North Devon Council is enthusiastic about a ferry service that would create a link to South Wales from Ilfracombe and we are exploring opportunities that could bring this to fruition.”

Meanwhile, Devon County Council’s cabinet member for climate change, environment and transport, Cllr Andrea Davies, said the principle of a clean energy ferry link sat well with the council’s own carbon reduction plan, as well as supporting the regeneration of coastal and market towns.

She added: “We’re yet to see details of any proposals, but we’re interested to find out more and we will arrange a meeting with North Devon Council to understand if additional support may be needed.”

A Bristol Channel ferry service has been proposed before. A catamaran capable of taking 360 passengers was planned by a company called Severn Link, with trips taking 50 minutes between Swansea and Ilfracombe. It was hoped that the vessel would launch in 2010, but it didn’t materialise.


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David thomas
David thomas
1 month ago

Ferry to Brittany please

Frank
Frank
1 month ago

Give all passengers an oar each. Or how about a three-masted sailing ferry. That should make it environmentally friendly!! All this talk of carbon emissions is causing more pollution in hot air jibberish. Since humans have inhabited the Earth we have been burning wood and peat for cooking, heating and for other purposes. Without doing so we would have perished. There are vast amounts of coal, oil and gas on the planet. I am sure the Almighty knew what he was doing during the creation. Who knows what might happen if we didn’t use these resources and allow the build… Read more »

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

What rubbish you speak!!

Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  Dai Rob

I suppose you are in favour of electric cars and think you are doing the planet a favour when there is a dirty power station somewhere churning out carbon emissions to charge your batteries. Don’t come back at me about clean energy production because there is a low percentage of green power stations.

G.Bevan
G.Bevan
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

In 2020 nearly half of the electricity generate in the UK came from green sources i.e. wind, solar, bioenergy and hydro. This compares with 2% in 1991.

Source National Grid website

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
1 month ago
Reply to  G.Bevan

According to The UK Government’s statistics the Amount of Renewable Energy for 2022 is 39% which doesn’t really make it half.I agree with Frank there should be more emphasis on Reliable not Renewable Energy

Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

Ah, the greens are busy giving me thumbs down but have you noticed they don’t offer a counter argument. Counter arguments don’t cause pollution!! Probably because they cannot think of one.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

Don’t blame the Almighty, he’s only been prime minister for a few weeks…

Stuart Evans
Stuart Evans
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

Exactly but there are still uneducated morons out there, most of them in the council

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
1 month ago

Whilst we still have a country lane going from north to south Wales, and no north to south railway.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Rhufawn Jones

The section of the A470 that passes through my old county would win awards for the most beautiful journey in Cymru…

Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards
1 month ago
Reply to  Rhufawn Jones

Agree. And here’s another problem with the ferry. It’s based on the idea that a lot of people want to drive between Swansea/SW Wales and Exeter etc. Driving between Cardiff and Bristol is quicker by Pont Hafren. Ferry no-go. I tried to work with West Glam on the Cork Ferry years ago but they kicked me out of the building because I was Plaid (at the time) not Labour. As an ex-P&O employee, I’ve always fancied building on the ‘Waverly’ idea. I think a small cruise ship working out of Swansea or Cardiff might work. The Bretons do this.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago

If people in South Wales are to pump their tourist money into North Devon I hope it’s North Devon and not Cymru who’s paying to facilitate it.

Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

Excellent observation.

Alun
Alun
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

It’s two-way isn’t it? We visit Devon & Cornwall, they visit south Wales. So both would benefit and both would presumably help finance it.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Alun

Have you compared the populations of South Wales and North Devon?
The money will flow from the area of high population to the area of low population.

And I doubt that many in South Devon and Cornwall will be travelling for hours to get to Ilfracombe so they can get on a boat and visit Abertawe.

Ban wood burners
Ban wood burners
1 month ago

Well as cars are going to be electric, and charged with renewables, then there should be no problem providing a car ferry should there !

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