A framework to assist more sustainable maritime operations increased annual sales turnover for Falmouth Harbour Commissioners by £163,000, reduced annual costs by £174,000, and safeguarded vital business activities.


  • Improvements to the Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC) management structure resulted in a recent increase in annual sales turnover of £163,000.
  • Direct Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) contributions to FHC cost savings were estimated at £76,000 annually across the project life cycle - rising to an annual average of £174,000 in the post-project period.
  • The partnership led to a 43 per cent increase in annual profits, with forecast profits over three years of £1.22 million.
  • The KTP provided vital safeguarding of three core business activities (bunkering, jack-up rig storage and anchoring), which amounted to an estimated £2.7 million over the project life cycle. A significant portion of the in-project increase in income came from anchoring operations, which would have been under threat if the KTP had not been successful.
  • A new integrated management system was developed, leading to FHC achieving ISO 14001 Accreditation for environmental management.

About the research

Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC) sought the assistance of Plymouth University academics to explore the potential environmental and socio-economic impacts of Falmouth Harbour activities, and identify management solutions to develop more sustainable maritime operations.

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), co-funded by ESRC with the Natural Environment Research Council, aimed to develop an Environmental Management System which would safeguard business activities. The management system would provide a better understanding of environmental and socio-economic impacts, as well as improving the quality of response to campaign groups and regulatory bodies about developments in Falmouth Harbour.

KTP Associate Harriet Knowles identified key challenges for FHC in impact assessments of current operations and potential conflicts between environment and commerce. She investigated impacts of maritime operations such as anchoring and bunkering, and ways of managing their impacts on shipping and port processes.

Harriet Knowles also developed a Stakeholder Management System, using software to map stakeholder relations and creating more robust and effective relationships with stakeholders. The KTP has transformed the quality of external working - boosting collaboration with other small ports operators in the UK and across Europe via the PORTONOVO transnational project.

The KTP won the ESRC Best Application of Social Science to a KTP award at the Innovate UK KTP Awards 2012.