It’s the first official step in asking Wightlink if they’ll move their Portsmouth car ferry port from its current position to the International ferry port, the other side of the town, near the bottom of the M275.
Portsmouth city council own the land that Wightlink port currently sits on.
This official request will now be considered by Portsmouth council’s Cabinet.
Tackling traffic congestion
OnTheWight spoke to Cllr Steve Hastings, one of the Pompey UKIP councillors behind the council motion.
“There’s a significant problem with traffic congestion in Portsmouth and it’s getting significantly worse. It makes sense to shift the ferry port – it would be better for the Portsmouth, Isle of Wight residents and visitors.”
Cllr Hastings also pointed out that if the port was moved to the north side of the city, those using the Isle of Wight ferry might find it better, as they wouldn’t need to fight their way across Portsmouth when departing or leaving, “I’m sure all Islanders are familiar with the nail-biting moments of trying to get to the ferry when the Portsmouth traffic is solid,” he told OnTheWight.
Cllr Hastings told OnTheWight that he understood that the Wightlink had previously done trials to the International port.
“The drawback would just be for the ferry companies. As it’s a little further it would cost them more fuel, so costs their would go up slightly.”
More traffic expected
The area is undergoing much transformation at the moment with the arrival of Ben Ainslie Racing on the land to the right of where the ferry docks. Cllr Hastings says this new attraction will further increase traffic in the area.
If the land were to be freed up, Cllr Hastings says it could be used to build a five-star hotel on it. A high-class hotel is something that has been frequently spoken about in Portsmouth in particular by Donna Jones, the current Leader of the council.
Moving the Isle of Wight vehicle ferry terminal
Proposed by Councillor Alicia Denny
Seconded by Councillor Steve Hastings
Council asks Cabinet to consider encouraging Wightlink to move its vehicle operations from The Camber to the Continental Ferry Port and report back to councillors as soon as possible.
Such a move would have benefits in removing a large number of vehicle movements from the city centre and release valuable land at The Camber for commercial re-development such as a five-star hotel.
Wightlink would have better facilities for docking, customers would have better road links via the M275 and under-used facilities at the Continental Ferry Port would have increased business.
Response from Wightlink
Wightlink Chief Operating Officer John Burrows says:
“Wightlink has no plans to relocate to the Portsmouth International Port.
“This is for several reasons. Firstly, it would increase journey times to the Isle of Wight. Wightlink offers customers an attractively short crossing time of 45 minutes by car ferry. This is a major factor in the success of the company which is a major local employer.
“A longer journey time would make the company’s current fleet unsuitable. To run services from PIP, much bigger ships would be required and this could require more than £100m capital investment in new vessels.
“Portsmouth Harbour is very busy with commercial and naval ships. While Wightlink ferries are occasionally delayed by port movements at present, moving operations much further inside the harbour would increase the probability of major disruption to timetables. Services to France and Spain can manage this risk because a delay of 20-30 minutes represents a small proportion of the journey time, but Wightlink’s frequent commuter-based services would be affected to a far greater extent.
“Wightlink has a long lease (until 2058) on the Gunwharf terminal and has no reason to move.”