Major blow to Falmouth's dredging plan as application for funding is rejected

Plans to dredge a deep water channel into Falmouth Docks have suffered a set-back after a bid for a share of government funding was rejected. The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) invited "expressions of interest" for the next round of Growth Deal funding and received 143 applications, including one from Falmouth Harbour Commissioners. Following a "rigorous assessment process" that number has come down to around 46 projects seeking £126 million of public money, but the proposals to dredge in Falmouth is not one of them. Dave Ellis, chairman, Falmouth Harbour Commissioners, said: "It is very disappointing to hear that the application for this round of Growth Deal funding for Cornwall by the LEP does not include funding to assist with the costs of dredging a new approach channel into Falmouth Docks."We have worked hard on developing the case but fully understand that it is a competitive bid process and the LEP must take into account all the information available and the particular circumstances of each expression of interest received. "Putting forward a case for funding for a project of this scale, that requires both public and private investment, is complicated. We remain convinced that the benefits of dredging, to the port and local economy, are fundamental to ensuring the future prosperity of the port and we stand ready to work with partners should an alternative funding stream be identified. "We would stress that this decision relates to a potential funding proposal for the project and is not related to our application for consents to undertake the work. We are anticipating that a decision relating to the environmental consents for the application will be made by the Marine Management Organisation in the near future and remain hopeful that this will clear the way for these works to be undertaken once funding has been identified.” The full LEP board had discussed the Falmouth dredging proposal at length. While £19 million of potential port infrastructure projects in Falmouth have been put forward as part of the bid, the decision was made not to submit the dredging project at this time. The board did not feel that, as presented, there was a "sufficiently robust business case" to justify asking Government to spend public money on dredging as part of this competitive process.Sandra Rothwell, chief executive of the LEP, said: “Falmouth makes an important contribution to the local economy and we have put forward £19m of projects in the port for potential Growth Deal investment, including the development of marine renewable energy."However we did not feel that the business case for dredging was sufficiently strong to include it in a very competitive bidding process, so it has not gone forward in this round. We know there will be disappointment, but we had to ensure that we submitted the strongest bid possible with the best chance of success. We have offered to meet the applicants with Sarah Newton MP to discuss the project further.” Source : falmouthpacket

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