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Swansea Council considers plans for ferry service to seaside towns in Devon and Cornwall

12 Apr 2022 2 minutes Read
Swansea Ferry Terminal. Photo by Reading Tom is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Richard Youle, local democracy reporter

A hydrogen-powered ferry service across the Bristol Channel is being considered by council chiefs in Swansea.

They have held exploratory meetings with councils in Devon and Cornwall about the idea.

Swansea Council would, they said, help provide a hub for a South Wales to Southwest of England service.

It’s still early days, and key to the proposal moving forward would be ensuring that seaside towns in Devon and Cornwall could accommodate ferries. It could be that interested parties make a joint bid for funding in the future.

Rob Stewart, the leader of Swansea Council, said he was keen for Swansea’s maritime history to be revitalised.

Large ferries used to sail between Swansea and Cork but the service stopped just over a decade ago. Pleasure steamer Balmoral and paddle steamer Waverley have offered occasional summer sailings across the Bristol Channel for many years, stopping at Swansea and Ilfracombe in North Devon, among others.

Environmental benefits

Mr Stewart, who is a candidate again at the May 5 council elections, said: “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.”

Hydrogen generated by renewable energy would be a major breakthrough for the transport sector, which is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases by sector in the UK. There are plans for hydrogen to be produced at the Blue Eden project at Swansea docks – a 12-year energy, housing and research initiative featuring a tidal energy lagoon, battery manufacturing and solar farm, among other things.

It’s not the first time a Bristol Channel ferry network has been proposed. A fast catamaran service 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 year-round service would be launched in 2010, but it didn’t materialise. Speaking at the time, Severn Link founder and chairman Chris Marrow said: “There is no question a lot of people are spending their holidays in the UK at the moment and in many ways I think it’s the absolute ideal time to be starting.”


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Ann
Ann
1 month ago

Great idea! Would definitely support, remember going from Mumbles to Ilfracombe in 1969!

Robert Morgan
Robert Morgan
1 month ago
Reply to  Ann

Yes great idea but a vote catching post. English side know nothing regarding the ferry

Glen
Glen
1 month ago

It would be a great boost for tourism in Devon and Cornwall, not sure it would do much for Swansea.

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

With all the problems at Dover and other English ports, I am surprised our Gov has not attempted to trial ferry crossings to mainland Europe. Look how quickly the Gov of R.O.I. set up services to bypass the UK I am sure it would also create jobs in the long term.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

I suspect that Ireland had rough plans in place since the idea of a EU referendum was mooted. Once that deed was done they just went back to them, refined them and got on with the job. Amazing how being independent allows people to be sharper in their responses. Looking at the current state of the Dover/Kent area I bet that most Irish hauliers are glad that the alternatives are available.

Rachel
Rachel
1 month ago

Car ferry would be perfect tbh….

Robert Morgan
Robert Morgan
1 month ago
Reply to  Rachel

Strange that the authorities in Devon know nothing about it. No one has been approached. Vote grabing

CapM
CapM
1 month ago

‘Mr Stewart, who is a candidate again at the May 5 council elections, said: “This would be a massive boost for tourism and business – to think you could cut your travel time to Devon and Cornwall by half, ‘

Begs the question why isn’t Mr Stewart standing as a candidate in north Devon or Cornwall seeing as it’s those areas that will benefit from “a massive boost for tourism ” rather than Abertawe.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

Dumb cluck confuses “doing something” with “doing something useful”. There again there aren’t many in Welsh politics at any level who are able to undertake anything remotely like a real costs and benefits assessment. That’s why cash goes down the drain on useless projects while real needs remain to be dealt with.

Robert Morgan
Robert Morgan
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

Strange that the authorities in Devon know nothing about it. No one has been approached. Vote grabing

Kurt C
Kurt C
1 month ago

Welsh money to fund English tourism. He should be honest and stand in Devon as he proposes benefits one way.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

Swansea’s ports were once a hive of activity. And It’s sad to see its docks largely dormant all but for small vessels & pleasure cruisers. I’m aware there used to be trips on the Scottish built paddle steamer Waverley years ago that made regular journeys to Ilfracombe before its return back to the Clyde in Scotland. And although new ferry service is a great idea in principal seeing both Waverley & Swansea to Cork ferries have subsequently ceased. But any service must not act as a syphon taking money out of the South West Wales region to the English West… Read more »

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
1 month ago

It will never happen.This has been talked about for decades.There is more chance of The Mumbles Railway returning than a Bristol Channel Ferry

Mawkernewek
1 month ago

This article somewhat lacks detail (is this a year round service, how many passengers would it take, would it take vehicles?) and is almost verbatim the same as an article on Wales Online

Robert Morgan
Robert Morgan
1 month ago

Apparently the English side in devon know nothing regarding ferry. Another vote catching post?

Robert Morgan
Robert Morgan
1 month ago

Strange that the authorities in Devon know nothing about it. No one has been approached. Vote grabing

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