The Importance of the Docks for Falmouth

Throughout my childhood I lived with the fear of the docks in Falmouth closing. I remember my Falmouth School classmates wondering if their parents would lose their jobs or if they would be able to develop their own career in the port. My great uncle was a Falmouth Pilot and my grandfather worked in the docks for a while so, just like so many local families, our futures were bound up in the future of the port.

In fact all our futures are bound up in the future of the port in Falmouth and all the other ports around our shores. As a trading, island nation with over ninety percent of everything we consume arriving by sea, maintaining and developing our port infrastructure, ship building and maintenance skills are vital to our national security and prosperity.

When I was elected in 2010, I set myself a personal goal to secure the future of the port of Falmouth, including A&P. There are world leading businesses in the port, including Pendennis Shipbuilders, World Fuel Services and FalFish. Since 2010, these companies have been able to grow their businesses, securing new private and public funding. I was particularly pleased to have been able to officially open the new Eastern Jetty/breakwater last August which is not only vital infrastructure for World Fuel Services but protects the whole port of Falmouth.

I have been proud to bring a series of defence ministers to the port to see the excellent work that A&P is doing in supporting our Royal Fleet Auxiliary Ships and I am delighted that A&P recently won new long term contracts for maintaining these important vessels that work alongside and play an invaluable role supporting the Royal Navy. I am also delighted that Falmouth is now the home port for the Royal Naval survey vessel, H.M.S. Scott.

During March, I am travelling to Glasgow to the naming ceremony of a new vessel H.M.S. Tamar. She is one of five new Offshore Patrol Vessels that was built in Scotland, part of a significant investment in U.K. ship building, securing thousands of skilled jobs. Building the Offshore Patrol Vessels filled a gap in orders after the completion of the second aircraft carrier and before the Type 26 frigates begin construction.

HMS Tamar and her sister ships will be used by the Royal Navy to undertake various tasks including border protection roles, anti-smuggling, anti-piracy, fisheries patrols, and immigration law enforcement.

For some time I have been making the case for investment in new vessels to work alongside the U.K. Border Force to keep our borders safe and I am very much looking forward to welcoming H.M.S. Tamar into Falmouth.

I had the privilege of joining a Border Force Cutter in Falmouth and I discussed their important work with her crew. As a result of conflict, changes in the climate and modern slavery, many people fall into the hands of serious and organised criminals who, along with smuggling illegal drugs and weapons, also smuggle people – the most wicked trade in human suffering. So it is vitally important that we have increased the number of Royal Naval vessels that can patrol our waters, upholding the rule of law and protecting some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. HMS Tamar and her sister ships will also play an important role in protecting our fisheries too.

Thanks to the foresight of the Falmouth Harbour Commissioners, Falmouth is also the home of an important renewable energy development site, for tide and wave power. Working in partnership with local businesses and Exeter University, Wave Hub is part of the Green Growth plans for the sustainable development of our local economy.

Along with the port of Penryn, Falmouth provides many opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy our natural environment with a range of recreational activity from rowing and sailing to recreational fishing. Our local water quality has significantly improved with the leadership of the Environment Agency working with partners and landowners, and investments made by South West Water. This is protecting the natural habitat of important local species such as the native oysters.

The port of Falmouth has faced many challenges since the Killigrews secured the charter and I am sure it will face further challenges. But right now, thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit, innovation and determination of the people who work so hard for the ports of Falmouth and Penryn, our ports have a bright future.

First published in the Falmouth Wave April edition