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Swansea to Ilfracombe ferry gets green light

By This is Exeter  |  Posted: October 29, 2009

ON COURSE FOR SUCCESS: How the new Fast Cat ferries will look. Visit our website at www.thisisnorthdevon.co.uk to see more.

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THE FERRY link between Ilfracombe and Swansea will be confirmed officially today — bringing with it high hopes of greater prosperity for the entire North Devon region.

Severn Link, the company behind the project has announced the first passenger ferry will make its 50-minute crossing at Easter-time next year, with fares coming in at around £22.

Additional destinations in North Devon, West Somerset and South Wales are yet to be finalised.

The 40m Fast Cat catamarans will be capable of 34 knots — around 39mph. They will seat up to 360 passengers and are expected to make two return journeys daily — rising to five during peak times.

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The alternative by road is about 180 miles and nearly four hours in travelling each way.

Businesses and tourism providers across North Devon have long-anticipated the service as a means of boosting the economy.

Severn Link chairman Chris Marrow said: "The project has received the strongest possible support from business and residential communities on both sides of the Bristol Channel and is perceived as a key to much needed regeneration.

"Severn Link will be marketing the service heavily to national and international markets, to raise the profile of the service, the local areas and the attractions and is fully expected to contribute positively to local economies, by driving visitor numbers to the region."

Steve Pitcher, chief executive of North Devon+, said: "The potential for North Devon to increase its tourist numbers outside the high season is greatly helped by this ferry link which will encourage travel all year round from the cities of South Wales and beyond."

North Devon Council leader Des Brailey also welcomed the news. "It's great news for Ilfracombe and North Devon. I hope it will have longevity, but there is commitment there and we will try to do all we can in the current economic situation to help," he said.

Ilfracombe Mayor Philip Webb said: "This is one of the most significant events for Ilfracombe in several decades.

"The potential impact is that it will bring in hundreds of people to spend a lot of money in the town, so businesses should do better than they have done for quite some time."

Ilfracombe district councillor Paul Yabsley, who is also chairman of Ilfracombe harbour Board, said: "This is extremely exciting for Ilfracombe and North Devon. It's an incredible opportunity to get a large number of people coming to North Devon.

"There will also be some challenges for the harbour, but if the ferry is a success it will be possible to look ahead at the possibility of a car ferry in the future."

Visit our special Severn Link ferry website for more news articles and information about the ferry service.

Click here to go to the Severn Link ferry service website

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  • Profile image for This is Exeter
    Meme, Barnstaple  |  March 22 2010, 3:20PM

    About time too!!!

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    Ian Harris, Swansea  |  March 11 2010, 2:11PM

    Having read some of the comments left on this site, perhaps the bigoted, childish morons who have been insulting each other should just stay at home, and let the rest of us, who are a little bit more adult have a say. I think that at last someone is trying to make a an effort in linking south Wales and north Devon. Even if it's only a link during the summer months, it gives tourists in both areas an opportunity to have a great day out, and perhaps sow the seeds of future holidays in both regions. If this link were to be successful, it could lead to better ships and better all year round links. Lets be honest, anything that cuts out all that road mileage has to be good. Lets all stop moaning, be more positive, and at least give this venture a chance.

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    Christian, Swansea  |  February 16 2010, 4:41PM

    Great news about the ferry!! will it carry cars?! I often drive to south cornwall and the ferry would cut the drive time!

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    Ms L Herdman, swansea-plymouth  |  February 02 2010, 8:10PM

    I think the idea of the ferry from swansea to devon is an excellent idea, however it is such a shame that it only goes to north devon and not to south devon (Plymouth) aswell, as my boyfriend lives there and I would definately use the ferry and so would my boyfriend who comes to neath almost every weekend, rather the motorway. Maybe this could be a suggestion you could discuss with whomever is in charge. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future, to acknowledge receipt of this email. Many Thanks L Herdman

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    Chris Jones, Bristol Channel  |  November 04 2009, 6:34PM

    Fred, Oliver, Adrian, Damien, Mostly Morte Point looking for a waterproof jacket . . . . . . . . . . you have obviously never been on a Hovercraft in poor weather. The road network in South Wales struggles at the best of times without extra cars travelling to the west country using it. Besides, a tunnel will never happen - have a look at figures for smaller projects of a similar nature. Its more likely to finish the banks off than save them !!!!!!

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    Fred, Oliver, Adrian, Damien, Mostly Morte Point looking for a waterproof jacket  |  November 04 2009, 2:02PM

    I think a tunnel would be the key to success. You would not have to worry about the weather, tides or even building a decent road out of the harbour. You could then state that it is the longest underwater traffic tunnel in the world and get international funding from the World Bank. I also think that the non-town¿s folk living in or away from North Devon are plotting to invest in property or buy into franchises', think Weatherspoons, they are obviously investing. Bet Macca D's will be rolling in to town and I can just see the blue lights of Tesco metro on the quayside. Anybody bet against Iceland opening a store next to the bus station? (who needs a train station when you¿ve got Filers coaches?) It's about time Ilfracombe had an opportunity to discuss and develop a national conversation around opportunity. Woolacombe, Croyde and Braunton have lived off the surf industry for years, why can¿t Ilfracombe have success in offering other sorts of services to weary travellers from across the water. Last time Ilfracombe was mentioned on national TV was on the poorly scripted and unfamiliar portrayal of community life in the lowly town of Walford, East London. (please correct me if I¿m wrong) Otherwise has anybody thought about buying a hovercraft?

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    bilko, cirencester  |  November 03 2009, 5:36PM

    great ! day trips for drug dealers in swansea ,just what we need! it was bad enough when the link road was opened,why not build an airport then we could have the complete range of toerags visiting!

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    Derek Gawn, Ireland  |  November 02 2009, 10:47PM

    Can we ask a journalist from the North Devon Journal to pick up this debate please - AND PUT THESE POINTS TO THE OPERATOR FOR HIS RESPONSE - preferably on here (North Devon Journal not too plentiful in the newsagents of Co Cork!!)

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    Mark, Ilfracombe  |  November 02 2009, 3:00PM

    Ok we are all now on the same wavelength, I agree that small cats are far from Ideal, and the ideal solution would be a roll on roll off service, The question of conjestion is accademic, have you ever been to Dover? A roll on roll off port would link the entire south of England to Wales,. Then Ireland could be an option. Mr Scot Warton who runs two nearly new trawlers out of the harbour costing god knows how many hundreds of thousands started with a rowing boat out of Lee progressing to a 30ft wooden ships lifeboat even then he was laughed at, and criticised for the wrong choice of vessel. Lets see if the ferry service progresses in the same way??

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    Derek Gawn, Ireland  |  November 02 2009, 11:30AM

    Further to my last comment there is of course an existing ro-ro terminal at Swansea, but that would need to be shared with the 2010-to-be- resurrected Cork ferry, so would probably do for starters, before finance could be found for an exclusive terminal (if the existing terminal proved not ideal)