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Last-ditch effort to save 100 marine jobs at Falmouth Wharf

By WBCraig  |  Posted: April 24, 2014

  • Martin Cheal of KML at Falmouth Wharf

  • Martin Cheal (left) of KML and Brendon Rowe of Seawide Services at Falmouth Wharf

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MARINE business-owners have launched a last-ditch attempt to save more than 100 jobs and Cornwall’s only deep-water jetty of its kind at Falmouth.

Bosses at marine contractor Keynvor Morlift Ltd (KML) and salvage company Seawide Services said they will have nowhere else to go if the landlord builds luxury flats at Falmouth Wharf.

Plans to demolish buildings at the wharf, off North Parade, and build 44 flats, a 14-bedroom hotel and 20 light industrial workshop units have already been refused by Cornwall Council twice. But landlord Fairhaven Shipping UK Ltd has made a second appeal against the local authority’s decision. The hearing will take place on May 7.

KML, which rescued the stricken cargo vessel Sea Breeze after it started sinking off the Lizard last month, employs 50 high-skilled workers and contracts work to a further 30.

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Director Dicconcorr Rogers said he was “extremely concerned” about the future of the company if the appeal is won.

Brendan Rowe, a director of diving, moorings and marine contractor Seawide Services, which employs more than 20 workers on a full-time and freelance basis, said he feared the development could spell the end of his business.

The wharf is also home to training provider Serco Ltd Marine Services.

KML and Seawide both conduct heavy industrial work which the owners said would not fit in with a luxury flat development.

Mr Rowe said: “We have verbally been invited to return, but the development is supposed to last for 18 months. You cannot put a business on hold for that long. Even if we return, it would be completely unworkable. We unload scrap from ships. There is no way that is going to end up next to luxury flats.

“We have had this hanging over our heads for six years. We have spent an awful lot of manpower opposing this.

“There is nowhere left in Falmouth for us to operate from. We need a deep-water jetty.”

Mr Rogers, from KML, said: “We are extremely concerned about the possibility of the loss of the deep-water wharfage. We pay high-valued, skilled workers, a lot of them are good Cornish people. This is striking at the industrial marine heart of Falmouth.”

KML vessel engineering supervisor Martin Cheal said: “This is a unique independent deep-water wharf.

“If it’s lost to residential and leisure developments, our jobs go too.”

In January, campaign group Friends of Falmouth Wharf, which represents workshop tenants on the site, urged people to object to the appeal.

No one from Fairhaven Shipping was available for comment.

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2 comments

  • EcoFisher  |  April 24 2014, 9:12PM

    If the original planning application for Falmouth Wharf had succeeded in April last year, KML and Seawide would have had to move out and there wouldn't have been anyone on hand to prevent the MV Sea Breeze from sinking in Falmouth Bay. She had 65 tonnes of fuel and oil on her, which could have done an awful lot of damage to the environment, fishing and tourism in Falmouth Bay and cost an awful lot to clean up. Since the coalition Government scrapped the coastguard's Emergency Towing Vessels in 2011, we are now entirely reliant on commercial salvors like KML and Seawide to save ships and prevent oil spills. I hope the planning inspectors consider this when they decide the planning appeal for Falmouth Wharf on 7th May.

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  • EcoFisher  |  April 24 2014, 9:07PM

    If the original planning application for Falmouth Wharf had succeeded in April last year, KML and Seawide would have had to move out and there wouldn't have been anyone on hand to prevent the MV Sea Breeze from sinking in Falmouth Bay. She had 65 tonnes of fuel and oil on her, which could have done an awful lot of damage to the environment, fishing and tourism in Falmouth Bay and cost an awful lot to clean up. Since the coalition Government scrapped the coastguard's Emergency Towing Vessels in 2011, we are now entirely reliant on commercial salvors like KML and Seawide to save ships and prevent oil spills. I hope the planning inspectors consider this when they decide whether the planning appeal for Falmouth Wharf on 7th May.

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