Published on Thursday, 31st March 2016

 

The car ferry between Old Portsmouth and Fisbourne is to be upgraded. Operators, Wightlink, are to buy two vessels for the route. On Wednesday, they also received planning consent for a two tier parking and loading area that will allow them to embark vehicles more efficiently and will also allow travellers who arrive early to park and wait for their sailing.

 

The ferry terminal is on council-owned land in Gunwharf Road, but as Wightlink have a long lease the council’s role was restricted to determining the planning application. In my view the right decision was made.

 

Passenger numbers have been flat or in slight decline over recent years and with Red Funnel upgrading their Southampton-based service, there was a danger that an unimproved service would gradually lose market share. This matters as the service supports over 500 jobs, split between here and the island. An improved terminal, with new passenger facilities and more efficient loading will be better able to grow over coming years.

 

Many people have said that the service should move to the International Ferry Port. That though is impractical – longer sailing times would mean Wightlink would need another ship to maintain the same timetable and it would suffer from service interruptions when Naval vessels are moving in and out of port. Moreover Wightlink have a long lease and so whether they stay or move is solely their decision. From the council’s perspective, we want them to be successful and this planning decision gives them the chance to successfully compete against rival firms.


year vehicle movements % change
2007 996329  
2008 761259 -23.6
2009 971260 27.6
2010 948572 -2.3
2011 949581 0.1
2012 814417 -14.2
2013 809619 -0.6
2014 857983 6.0
2015 871850 1.6

Tags: Fery, Economy, Planning