Ambitions unveiled for Millbay Docks

23rd May 2022

Leaders of three city organisations have joined forces to work towards a new era of opportunity and growth for Millbay Docks.

Plymouth City Council Leader Richard Bingley, Chief Executive of Associated British Ports (ABP), Henrik Pedersen and Christophe Mathieu, the Chief Executive of Brittany Ferries, have agreed a tripartite arrangement to share and develop ambitions to expand the port’s capabilities and potential.

The organisations are working on a funding strategy which is likely to consider strategic Government funding available for freight, net zero and ports as well as private investment.

While the details are being worked up, the changes proposed for the port are expected to include improvements to the quayside – not just for ferry and cruise passengers, but to enable a new generation of freight to come into the country from the continent and beyond.

Council Leader Richard Bingley said: “This is a golden opportunity for the docks and the city to raise our global investment profile. One of my four priorities is to create more high value jobs here in Plymouth.

“We want more jobs at the port and beyond, more journeys to more destinations and for Plymouth to be a major player as new freight opportunities arise, particularly as we moved towards our Freeport status.

“There is an economic reset going on post-pandemic, post-Covid and with climate change to address. We need to make the most of this opportunity.”

The organisations are now working up proposals based around the following ambitions:

  • Expanding links between the South West and the Continent with a view to increasing the frequency and destination offer, creating more choice for customers, including city residents, as well as encouraging people to visit the city
  • Expanding the freight operation. ABP has lobbied government to have Plymouth recognised as a key strategic port. Freight is key to extending the season which ferries operate in and further opportunities around Freeports.
  • To create a sustainable ‘green’ shipping port through the availability of shore power to help minimise emissions from vessels. Millbay will also support local marine innovation hubs with access to the water and space to trial new and innovative technology.
  • Continue the city’s vision as a cruise destination. A welcoming modern cruise terminal for vessels calling alongside, as well as a pontoon for tender calls with space for coach parking, allowing a smooth transition from vessel to excursions for visiting cruise passengers.
  • Ensuring businesses in Millbay continue to thrive alongside port activities, opening up the area for events as well as a coastal path joining the Hoe to Royal William Yard. Berth expansion could also be explored as well as a tender pontoon to give access to large super yachts, water taxis and clubs.

Associated British Ports’ Chief Executive, Henrik Pedersen, said “ABP’s Port of Plymouth is the South West’s international gateway, and our partnership with Brittany Ferries and Plymouth City Council will establish Plymouth as a pioneering green port, helping the UK towards net zero. Building on the successful freeport bid, increased freight capacity and support for sustainable maritime innovation around the port will generate jobs and economic growth for the South West.”

Chief Executive of Brittany Ferries Christophe Mathieu added:

“This year we mark fifty years’ service to Plymouth Port and the wider regions of the south west.

“While we celebrate what has gone on before, the time has come to look to the future at opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, for us, for maritime transport and for the regions in which we operate. That’s why we are delighted to be part of this important project. A vibrant international port in Plymouth promises benefits for all, for many decades to come.”

Notes to editors:

For more information about ABP please contact:

Ffion Davies, Corporate Affairs Manager, Wales and Short Sea Ports
Mob: 07843977438
Email: [email protected]

Madeleine Hallward, Group Head of Strategic Communications
Mob: 07850501903
Email: [email protected]

About ABP (

ABP is the UK’s leading ports operator with 21 ports and other transport related businesses creating a unique national network capable of handling a vast array of cargo.

The company contributes £7.5 billion to the UK economy every year and supports 119,000 jobs. Our current investment programme promises to further increase our contribution to regional economies around the UK. ABP:

  • Handles over 1.5 million vehicles every year
  • Generates around one quarter of the UK’s rail freight
  • Has 1.4 million square metres of covered storage
  • Has 1,000 hectares of open storage
  • Handles around 90 million tonnes of cargo each year
  • Owns 5,000 hectares of port estate
  • Has 87km of quay

About Brittany Ferries

Brittany Ferries was conceived in 1972, starting life as a freight-only service on 2nd January the following year. The first ferry (Kerisnel) linked Roscoff in Brittany with Plymouth in the South of England and carried a cargo of artichokes and cauliflowers. Since then the company has progressively launched, then strengthened its shipping routes. This year, Brittany Ferries celebrates 50 years in operation. Millions of passengers and businesses transporting goods by sea across the so-called Atlantic Arc (France, UK, Spain and Ireland) rely on the links forged over the decades. In addition to cutting congestion and emissions on busy roads, these motorways-of the sea have helped enrich local communities, creating jobs and nurturing international tourism.


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