‘Substantial investment needed’ for Severn ferry crossing

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Ilfracombe and Swansea (courtesy Google Maps)

The plans were drawn up more than 10 years ago

The leader of North Devon Council is the latest figure to express interest in a ferry service to Wales.

But Councilor David Worden warns there is “a lot of work to be done” and a “substantial investment” would be needed if a service were to serve more than foot passengers.

Plans for a ‘Severn Link’ service were first drawn up just over a decade ago, with Ilfracombe to Swansea set to be the first route, although funding issues have prevented the project from going ahead. become reality.

However, the idea has resurfaced in recent months after Conservative MP for North Devon Selaine Saxby announced her support in Parliament last year, saying she would be “popular on both sides of the Bristol Channel”.

Scheduled to take 50 minutes each way, the sea link would slash the time it currently takes to drive from Ilfracombe to Swansea via the Prince of Wales Bridge near Bristol by more than two hours.

It was recently reported that Swansea Council was in talks with its counterparts in Devon and Cornwall over a new hydrogen ferry service linking Wales with the South West.

Rob Stewart (Labour), leader of Swansea Council, said in April: ‘It would be a huge boost for tourism and business – to think you could halve your journey time to Devon and Cornwall, and of course it would have environmental benefits too: taking cars off the road and introducing green-powered ferries. »

Asked about the idea earlier this month, Councilor Andrea Davis (Conservative, Combe Martin Rural), Cabinet Member of Devon County Council for Climate Change, Environment and Transport, indicated her initial support .

She said: ‘We have yet to see the details of the proposals, but we are interested in hearing more and will arrange a meeting with North Devon Council to understand if further support may be required.

“The principle of restoring the ferry link fits well with the Devon Carbon Plan and the transition to a zero carbon economy, as well as the county council’s aspirations for a coordinated approach to transport including connections outside Devon and supporting local regeneration in our coastal and market towns.

Now Cllr Worden, the leader of the North Devon Council’s Lib Dem, has suggested he would also like the idea, but stressed it won’t be straightforward.

In a statement, it said: “North Devon Council are very interested in this potential project, but there is a lot of work to be done to identify the type of ferry service possible and an operator. Pedestrians can now be accommodated in Ilfracombe without too much trouble, but other types of services would require substantial investment.

“We will work with colleagues in Wales and at DCC to identify opportunities and issues that would need to be overcome in order to make this a reality.

“We will review the various studies that have been prepared previously and hope to hold further discussions shortly.”

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