A New Harbour Revision Order for Falmouth Harbour – August 2023


General News

October 17th

The Falmouth Harbour Board are seeking to update the legislation that enables Falmouth Harbour to do its job, promoting and protecting our incredible Harbour, whilst keeping all Harbour users safe. The Board of commissioners feel a thorough overhaul of our legislation is now necessary, to fully reflect the challenges of managing an increasingly busy Harbour in the 21st Century. This is in line with Department for Transport (DfT) recommendations to UK Harbours – not for any radical change but to bring historic legislation up to date and fit for the future.

In January 2022 the Falmouth Harbour Board (Commissioners) decided to progress with a modernised HRO for Falmouth Harbour and in September 2022 approved the submission of a draft Harbour Revision Order (HRO) to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) for a HRO. The application was made in September 2022 order under section 14 of the Harbours Act 1964 for a new Order.

The MMO have now commenced consultation and formal notices were placed on the 29th August 2023. Harbour orders public register – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) More details about specific changes are in the HRO submission documents.

The Harbour is classed by the Department for Transport (“DfT”) as a Trust Port with responsibility for the Inner Harbour at Falmouth (excluding Falmouth Docks), the Penryn River up as far as Coastlines Wharf, the southern part of the Carrick Roads and a large part of Falmouth Bay. As the third deepest natural Harbour in the world, Falmouth’s unique geography and position as the UK’s Atlantic Gateway make it a highly valuable port for a range of operators. Additionally, Falmouth Bay is the only bunker anchorage in the UK that is outside of the Northern European SECA area.

The new HRO will consolidate and modernise existing local statutory harbour legislation in respect of Falmouth Harbour and confer further modernised powers on the Falmouth Harbour Commissioners considered conducive to the efficient and economical operation, maintenance, management and improvement of the harbour.

The main benefits include:

  1. Investing in a good modern legal framework will allow us to be efficient and save costs.
  2. The ability to work flexibly with harbour users as new technologies emerge to keep users safe.
  3. It will allow us to manage the harbour more safely in accordance with the Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC).
  4. Provide a much simpler framework allowing Stakeholders an easier understanding of how the Harbour is governed.

Falmouth Harbour was created by an Act of Parliament passed in 1870, over 150 years ago. Falmouth Harbour is currently governed through a number of Acts and HROs. This local legislation includes the 1958 Act that still defines the Harbour area. The last HRO update, substantially updated our governance in 2004. We have now reached the point where a more thorough overhaul is needed to ensure our statutory powers and duties are appropriate to meet the requirements of the 21st Century, as Harbour use grows and evolves. For example there are increasing numbers of fast foiling craft becoming mainstream and having an HRO that can deal with their safe operation is key.

Miles Carden CEO Falmouth Harbour says, “The main purpose of the Harbour Revision Order is to modernise our legal framework to reflect modern operation of the Harbour, look after the diverse users of the Harbour and safely manage technology and vessels in use today. This step is firmly in line with our broader evolution as an organisation, adopting open communications and greater transparency about our operations and decision making, including regular public meetings and online engagement.

In addition, I would like to reassure everyone that wherever possible we have not attempted to change the extent of our powers and not materially changed our jurisdiction areas. This process is about updating and improving rather than any radical change.

In preparing this Harbour Revision Order we have centred our work around four principles: Safety as the prime consideration, modernisation, repeal of very old powers, adding new modern powers and ensuring that charges are fair.

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