ABP launches the first phase of Millbay Docks transformation

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From left to right: Ian Cooper, Operations Director, Plymouth and South Devon Freeport; Richard May, CEO, Plymouth and South Devon Freeport and Adrian Buss, Operations Manager, ABP’s Port of Plymouth.

Associated British Ports (ABP), the UK’s largest port operator, is pleased to announce the commencement of the first phase of works at Millbay Docks, within the Port of Plymouth, which signifies the first works funded by the UK Government as part of the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport seed capital programme.

This work signals the latest phase in a series of strategic infrastructure developments ABP is making at Millbay, which will help secure the long-term future of the Ferry Terminal, strengthen the port’s freight capability, increase the ports green credentials, and grow the offering to the cruise market.

Specifically, the works that have now started are related to the reconstruction of the West Wharf, which is a critical element in the broader infrastructure enhancement initiative.

On Monday 15 January the Devon-based contractor, Teignmouth Maritime Services (TMS) received the delivery of piles, which will be installed over the next six weeks in order to reinforce the West Wharf and increase the existing load capacity. This will help to increase the port’s ability to handle general cargo and containers over the berth, as well as to support a state-of-the-art Passenger Boarding Bridge for the ferry and cruise market.

The result of the former will improve connectivity for businesses operating within the Freeport in the future who will need easy access to the sea for importing raw materials and components and exporting finished products. The latter will help to improve the ferry and cruise servicing facilities and passenger experience.

Julian Walker, Regional Director, ABP said: “The works will see infrastructure upgrades, which will help to future-proof the docks for years to come and mean that the community and broader economy benefit from increased activities within the region.

“This work marks an important milestone in a transformative journey for Millbay Docks. We are delighted to be the first funded project that is underway for Plymouth and South Devon Freeport, and it is made possible through the £1.3 million Seed Capital Funding, alongside further significant investment by ABP, which will not only enhance our ferry terminal – a key hub for Brittany Ferries – but also strengthen our freight capabilities, and expand offering to the Plymouth cruise market.

“ABP takes its responsibilities as one of the main port operators in the city seriously and we want to support the wider economy through our supply chains and being a good corporate citizen. In the past this has included sponsoring Sail GP and in the future we continue to invest and work in partnership to maximise our social value.”

Richard May, CEO, Plymouth and South Devon Freeport said: “It’s great to see our first Seed Capital project get underway. Thanks to ABP for mobilising this project so quickly. Enhancing such infrastructure secures the future and allows us to optimise port operations, increase ship rotations, consider new routes and high-value cargo types.

“We will see many of our other infrastructure projects go live this year just twelve months after the Government gave us a green light to be a Freeport.”

Council Leader Tudor Evans said: “Millbay Docks is a crucial port gateway for the Freeport and it’s a real milestone to be seeing the first wave of Freeport funding on one of the city’s most important assets start to become a reality.

“This work, which is supported by seed funding, will support the city’s ambition to increase global trade. It is a massive boost to the local economy and will help kick-start improvements we have all wanted to see for a long time.”

Jacob Young MP, Minister for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said:

“The start of this development, made possible by government funding for Plymouth and South Devon Freeport, marks a significant milestone in our efforts to level up and create opportunities for people living in port areas.

“This project will enhance connectivity for businesses importing and exporting within the Freeport, and boost trade and long-term economic prosperity for Plymouth and its surrounding areas.

“The fact local contractors are undertaking the work also shows our commitment to creating more local jobs - exactly what the Freeports programme strives to achieve.”

Commenting on recent notices to residents and businesses who live or work within the vicinity of Millbay Docks of the construction works, Julian Walker added: “ABP is committed to keeping our community informed and are going out of our way to minimise disruption during these works. We are grateful for the ongoing patience and support of the local community as we continue to play a proud role in the city.”