Agenda item

Update from Port of Dover

To receive an update from the Port of Dover on the Dover Strategic Masterplan 2050, the Dover Access Improvement Project and other associated issues.


The key questions submitted by Members are attached.


The Committee welcomed Doug Bannister, Chief Executive at the Port of Dover to provide an update on the Port of Dover.


In his introduction, Mr Bannister covered the following points:


·         That the Port of Dover had recovered well since the covid downturn and year-on-year (2022 v 2023) overall passenger growth had increased 36%, cars by 25% and coaches by 120%. In 2021 the Port handled 4,000 coaches which by 2023 had increased to 58,000 coaches. The Port of Dover was now the primary gateway for coaches. While he didn’t have the breakdown for the origin of the coaches, traditionally it was more UK originating coaches than European.

·         Prior to the summer an additional four positions for checking coaches were implemented. It took 8 minutes to process the quickest of the coaches (school group of EU passport holders) and 45 – 60 minutes (multi-pick up and drop off coaches such as Flix Bus) for the slowest. All coach passengers were required to debark and have their passports checked, so had an area set up for those that were expected to the quickest to be processed.

·         In preparation for the 2023 summer season, they had been speaking to the coach sector and tourism and installed  approximately 130% more capacity for coaches.

·         There had been work with Kent Police, National Highways and Kent Count Council on keeping junctions open and there was better traffic management overall. Those lorries that had been coming from Jubilee Way were directed to the back of TAP to avoid congestion on the A2.

·         Summer 2023 waiting times at the Port were on average 41 minutes and it only reached the 2 ½ hour waiting time on one occasion for one hour during the busiest Saturday the Port had experienced in 4 or 5 years. Prior to the summer season they had been warning travellers to expect delays of 1 ½ hours to clear border controls and 2 ½ hours on the busiest days. This had resulted in more traffic overall as people had not been put off by reporting of long delays at the Port.

·         That the Port of Dover had achieved a positive outcome with the anglers on the matter of fishing at the Admiralty Pier. This had been the reason for his last attendance at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

·         Freight volumes at the Port were up 8% year-on-year (2022 v 2023), which compared favourably to many other ports in UK that had seen a decrease in freight volume.

·         2023 saw new cruise lines interested in using Dover as a port of call. While cruise ship call numbers were down, the passenger numbers were up so the number of cruise passengers was broadly in line with expectations.

·         The cargo business was doing well, with the refrigerated cargo business doing particularly well. A third of all bananas consumed in UK now arrived through Dover. The Port had also secured a Brazilian seasonal melon contract and ad-hoc shipments of South African grapes. It was exploring opportunities for new business in 2024.

·         In respect of property, the Port expected the developers of the new hotel on the marina curve to start construction in late 2024. De Bradelei Wharf had been demolished and was to be used as car parking space in the short term.



Q1.      What plans are there to ensure a response to climate change?

The Port of Dover had launched its sustainability agenda in 2022.


It had reduced emissions by 98% against 2017 levels and was ahead of expectations for its net carbon zero 2025 target.

The intent was to create a green shipping corridor across the short straits with the decarbonisation of ships. P&O were intending to operate two hybrid ships and DFDS were reviewing their entire fleet with a potential move to an electric fleet. However, an electric fleet would need to be charged by the Port, which currently had a capacity of 8mw.

The potential electric need for cruise ships to ‘cold iron’ was between 7 – 15mw per ship, with up to 3 ships alongside at any one time. The potential need for ferries to recharge and turnaround in 45 minutes, with each ferry requiring 25 – 35mw. This meant that the peak electricity demand for the Port could be 160mw.

Cruise ships already wanted to charge at the Port and ferries would need it by 2028/29.

If Port of Dover could get this right, it would lead the way and drive supply chain decarbonisation nationally.

Climate Change

The Port was potentially impacted by increasing numbers and severity of storms, rising water levels and flooding from the River Dour. There had been instances of overtopping at Admiralty Pier in storms. There was a need to build infrastructure that would protect both the Port and the town.

There was also consideration as to how climate change would impact on tourism and what opportunities were presented by it.


Q2.    How does DHB see itself working alongside DDC regarding local development/tourism? How will it link access from cruise terminal to the town making Dover a destination port rather than a town to travel to on the way to London, Leeds Castle, and Dover castle?

          This was answered as part of another question.


Q3.    How will air quality be maintained with the probable proposed plans to further increase freight traffic and handling?

This was answered as part of responses to other questions. 


Q4.    How does DHB see the development of cruise traffic and tourism alongside the increased parking for and management of freight?

This was answered as part of responses to other questions. 


Q5.    Please could DHB provide an overview of their 'masterplan' process/timing and an update on progress and plans for the Western Docks redevelopment, including the Marina curve hotel, De Bradelei wharf site and future of Wellington Dock and adjacent Marina.

          The Port 2050 Masterplan Project was opened to the public and stakeholders, including Dover District Council. Have been considering the strategic response from the Port to a range of scenarios and developed a headline strategy. The Port was identifying the infrastructure and processes needed to deal with the needs of the Port in 2050.

          Looking at engagement through more modern electronic methods to incrementally build ideas and engagement at the same time. In February or March 2023 will look at further public engagement.

          For the Eastern Docks, the intention was to make it the most efficient and effective terminal it could be due to its impact on Dover and the wider East Kent area. This would need an improved layout, more berths and improved processing and capacity.

          For the Western Docks, there were a range of options. There were opportunities for public realm improvements around the marina curve and clock tower square to benefit locals and visitors. For cargo, the new land would be created through the infilling of the Granville Dock had opportunities for logistic warehousing and cold storage. The masterplan and specific cruise programme was looking at what investment in infrastructure was required to facilitate more and larger cruise ships calling at Dover. However, if both cargo and cruise business continues to grow there were dangers that in the future, they could constrain each other.

          There had been a lot of feedback on connecting the cruise terminal to the town which was being considered and which would improve access for cruise passengers.


Q6.    Could DHB provide an update on the introduction of the electronic entry/exit system and associated infrastructure that might be required

Members were advised that it was expected that the new biometric checks to be brought in by the EU’s Entry Exit System (EES) would come into effect in October 2024. It was stated that sub-optimal implementation of these measures would have a significant adverse impact on the town, with very long queues at the Port, and it was the highest risk in the Port’s risk register.

The Government needed to urgently order the infrastructure to implement this due to the lead in time for it. It was hoped that ESS would be implemented gradually to mitigate the impact.

Q7.    Could DHB provide an overview of how ferry traffic/usage has recovered following the pandemic, including information on the impact of Irish Ferries introducing services and the arrival of new, modern ferries by P&O

          This had been answered as part of another question.


Q8.    Could DHB provide an update on the Levelling Up Fund grant award to improve roads and infrastructure around the eastern docks.

The Kent County Council Levelling-Up Fund (LU2) project bid had been successful in obtaining a grant of £45 million that would go towards the outbound controls project that in total would cost more than £80 million. It would push the controls in an expanded border control plaza deeper into the Port and reorder and speed up the process of checking-in and passing through border controls. It was estimated that the additional 40% holding capacity it would create would equate to the capacity generated through the use of TAP.

Members also raised the following points:

·         To express support for how traffic had been handled over the summer.

·         The question the impact of the move away from Dover District Council managing the Port’s car parking space. It was stated that the Port would be utilising Ring-Go for public parking.


Supporting documents: