Isle of Wight

Almost 2 months after Island Echo reported on plans for a new Isle of Wight ferry operator to enter the market, further details have been revealed about the firm’s all-electric dreams for a Ryde to Portsmouth car ferry route.

For almost 10 years, Wight Gateway Limited has been exploring the options for introducing a new cross-Solent operator into the mix to go against the 3 giants; Wightlink, Red Funnel and Hovertravel. It was back in April that it was revealed that the company, headed up by Nick Wakefield, John Clewley, and John Fisher, was looking to set up a shop to rival the existing ferry operators.

Now, it has been announced that the company intends to use 3 electric ferries –  built here on the Isle of Wight – to operate between Portsmouth International Port and the west of Ryde. No confirmed details have been released about where the new Island terminal would be, but it is thought to be in the vicinity of Ryde House off Binstead Road – an address connected with the company.

The brand new operator is said to be wanting to operate services for foot passengers, motorcycles, cars and light vans only, around 80 cars at a time. The route would not be intended for HGVs or other heavy traffic such as coaches. The ferries would be powered by a local solar farm, with 1 of the company’s directors, John Fisher, connected with a company called ‘Pure Green Energy’.

It is hoped that the plans can be fast-tracked through the planning process by means of obtaining designation as a National Significant Infrastructure Project, with ambitious claims that sailings could begin within just 2 to 3 years.

Although hopes of operating as early as 2026 with locally-built, all-electric ferries seems a pie-in-the-sky idea, some credence is given by the fact a memorandum of understanding has been secured with Portsmouth International Port to use a berth within the harbour.

Councillor Phil Jordan, Leader of the Isle of Wight Council, has spoken about the plans today, stating he is ‘incredibly supportive of this fantastic new initiative’. Councillor Jordan owns a business directly opposite the entrance to Ryde House on the main Newport to Ryde road.

Commenting on the possible new services, Bob Seely MP has said:

“This is good news. We need better, cheaper services to those offered by Wightlink and Red Funnel. I want to see new operators offer new services to challenge the existing stranglehold.

“I have been talking with the new service’s director, Nick Wakefield, for some time and am very supportive of Nick and his colleagues’ efforts. I am delighted that progress is being made.

“There is clearly some way to go and issues about landing on the Island around Ryde. However in principle, I strongly support new Solent ferry services.”

Earlier this month it was reported by Island Echo that Fluid Taxi is to operate a foot passenger service between Yarmouth and Lymington.

This article first appeared in the Island Echo here –

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