Wightlink gets approval for £45m upgrade

A £45 million development to improve ferry links between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight has been approved.

Wightlink Ferries received conditional planning permission from Isle of Wight councillors to upgrade port facilities at the company’s Fishbourne car ferry terminal.

It comes after plans by the company to enhance terminal facilities at Portsmouth Gunwharf Quays were approved last month.

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Work will begin in the autumn to install a new double deck boarding ramp at Fishbourne, which Wightlink Ferries say will enable vehicles to embark and disembark “more quickly and quietly”.

The company will also announce details of a new environmentally-friendly ship in coming weeks to sail the route.

John Burrows, interim chief executive at Wightlink, said: “This is good news for Wightlink, our customers and the Isle of Wight.

“When our improvements are complete and our new ship comes into service in 2018 we will be able to operate our services at Fishbourne more efficiently with quieter loading and unloading, reduced traffic congestion and more capacity when people want to travel.”

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Portsmouth docks have seen a period of revitalisation in recent years, including the creation of the Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing America’s Cup sailing team headquarters.

The development of the centre is estimated to have generated £18.5 million for the local economy and created 730 jobs, according to a report prepared by KPMG.