Capital Cruising begins busiest ever cruise season across Scottish ports

Tuesday 16th April 2024

The busiest season ever for Forth Ports’ Capital Cruising business, kicks off this month. A record bursting 161 cruise calls are booked in this season calling across Scotland’s east coast, carrying an estimated 235,000 passengers who will be visiting Edinburgh, Fife and Dundee during 2024. This is further growth for the cruise business, which welcomed 149 vessels in 2023, where ships sail directly into the Port of Leith, Rosyth and Dundee’s cruise berth as well as deep water anchorages in the River Forth for Newhaven and South Queensferry.

The cruise season in Scotland traditionally runs between April and October bringing thousands of passengers who visit the attractions of Scotland including the capital city. Edinburgh is a globally popular destination and viewed by the cruise market as a “marquee” cruise destination with iconic attractions, events, heritage and culture and most importantly, the city is known for welcoming cruise lines and cruise passengers.

Dundee is enjoying further strong growth in cruise, with 16 calls booked for 2024. Their season starts on 27 April with the arrival of the Seaborne Venture. In 2023, the port welcomed 14 cruise ships and in 2022 it had four.

Commenting, Rob Mason, Head of Cruise at Forth Ports, said: “We are excited to have started our busiest ever cruise season. Cruise is an important contributor to our local and national economy. Over the past decade, there has been an incredible 93% growth in the attraction of cruise in Scotland with an expected 1 million passengers calling into Scotland’s ports, generating an incredible £130million for the country’s economy.

 “91% of cruise passengers repeat a cruise with 60% returning to a destination. We are working hard with the city, destination partners, communities and the wider cruise industry to meet the industries challenges and deliver another success cruise season. We look forward to giving a warm Scottish welcome to cruise passengers this year.” [*figures from Cruise Scotland].

The cruise industry is firmly committed to the sustainable future for cruise travel both at sea and onshore, as cruise lines embrace new technologies, innovations and the uptake of sustainable alternative fuels. Whilst significant work is also being undertaken to ensure Edinburgh is recognised as a sustainability driven destination. EZ Bike Tours located next to our port in Newhaven provides environmentally friendly electric bike tours of the city as a shore excursion option. The launch of the Edinburgh Trams extension last year will also allow passengers easy access to the City using the tram stops in Newhaven and also at the Port of Leith.

Forth Ports’ has set out its commitment to reducing its own carbon footprint with ambitious targets to be carbon neutral by 2032 and net zero by 2042. Action is already underway and last year the Port of Leith becoming the first large mainland commercial port in Scotland to provide a shore power connection which allows ships to switch off any diesel-powered generators or engines.

16 April 2024                                    – ends –


Forth Ports submits plans for exciting development at Harbour 31 as the regeneration of Leith continues

Monday 18th March 2024

Forth Ports has submitted an application for Planning Permission in Principle (PPP) to The City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) for Harbour 31, an exciting new housing, commercial and retail development on a 4.7 acre waterfront site at The Port of Leith.

The proposed redevelopment of the site, close to the new FirstStage film studio, will provide 337 new homes including studios, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments – which will be in line with the CEC’s approved affordable housing policy – and approximately 244sqm of commercial space.

The apartments will be formed over a four-plot development with heights ranging from five to eight storeys with a focus on communal green spaces for the residents to enjoy and integrated sustainable travel options.

Harbour 31 is situated to the south of Edinburgh Dock within the Port of Leith and is currently used for industrial port activities. It is located close to existing and other proposed residential developments and the extended Edinburgh tram network.

The redevelopment of this area of Leith represents an exciting opportunity to create a new neighbourhood while providing high quality architecture, landscaping and public space which will enhance the city’s connection to the waterfront.

As well as benefiting from the recently opened tram extension with a tram stop designed for The Port of Leith, the proposed development will include a new transport corridor to encourage sustainable modes of transport including a bus route, cycle lane and walking route linking Bath Road to Ocean Way. The apartments will all have access to bike storage.

There will be car parking provision, given the location of the site and the excellent public transport provision and local amenities in the vicinity, car parking provision will be around 20% and include accessible parking spaces and be EV ready.

Pamela Smyth, Chief Legal and Property Officer, of landowners Forth Ports Group, said: “At Harbour 31 we want to create a vibrant new quarter for people to live and work in, as new green jobs come to Leith. The port is transitioning into Scotland’s largest renewables hub and, coupled with the benefits which will be unlocked as part of the Forth Green Freeport, Leith will be completely regenerated.

 “With the option to walk or cycle to work or get the tram into the city centre, this new neighbourhood will be a key part of the continued regeneration of Leith.”

In addition, an application has been made for listed building consent for works associated with alterations to Edinburgh Dock for the provision of surface drainage for the proposed development.

The site sits on a dockside location and fits well with the Council’s Local Development Plan for a housing-led, mixed-use development. The proposals have been designed by Comprehensive Design Architects (CDA), an award-winning practice based in Edinburgh and Glasgow.


18 March 2024                                             – ends –


Port of Tilbury to host community Open Day on 11th May

Wednesday 13th March 2024

The team at Port of Tilbury announce that the busy port will once again open its doors for a community Open Day and celebration event on Saturday 11th May from 10.30am until 4.30pm at the London Cruise Terminal and everyone is invited to come along.

The local community and families of the port team will have the opportunity to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere as local performers take to the stage in the Grade 2 star listed London Cruise Terminal Baggage Hall. There will be heritage stands and informative guided tours of the vast port estate which will tell the incredible stories that have shaped the port over the years.

The FREE programme of events for all the family will run throughout the day and will include:

  • Vintage Bus Port Tours
  • Face Painter & Crafting
  • Football Activities including a penalty shoot out game
  • Makers Market
  • Live Performances by local singers and dancers
  • Heritage Stands
  • Walking Tours
  • Plant Machinery Display

The Makers Market is a new addition to the events and it is where local crafters come together to showcase their unique creations and talents. From handmade jewellery and home decor to original artworks and artisanal goods, the market will be a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind items.

Paul Dale, Asset and Site Director from The Port of Tilbury said: “It is wonderful to be able to welcome the local community, our port team and their families into the Port of Tilbury on 11 May. There will be the opportunity to tour our large port estate on a vintage bus and engage in a day filled with activities, entertainment and a get a glimpse into the rich history of the port.

 “We are looking forward to the Makers Market which is new this year. By supporting our local crafters, you not only get beautifully crafted products but also contribute to the growth of small businesses and the local economy. I hope that everyone is able to come along and join us.”

13 March 2024                                              -ends-



Kite Spirit and the Port of Tilbury mark International Women’s Day with textile project commemorating Queen Elizabeth I

Friday 8th March 2024

Kite Spirit, a dynamic all female group based in Thurrock and known for their exceptional textile artworks, have started work on a new piece in celebration of International Women’s Day on 8th March 2024. Partnering with The Port of Tilbury, the group’s current project pays homage to the iconic Queen Elizabeth I and her empowering speech delivered to her troops on the banks of the Thames in Tilbury in 1588.

“I come amongst you, as. you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst. you all: to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust.” Queen Elizabeth I, 8 August 1588

Renowned for their creativity and commitment to community projects over the past decade, Kite Spirit have used a wealth of ideas to capture the spirit of Queen Elizabeth I through their textiles. The stunning creations from the group already hang in the London Cruise Terminal in Tilbury and this new piece will also be prominently displayed in the building as a testament to the group’s dedication to both historical significance and artistic excellence.

The mood boards created [see images included with this release] show the depth Kite Spirit go to, when they research their subject. The group’s use of recycled, sustainable materials and natural dye truly is an inspiration to anyone working with textiles.

Commenting on the Project, Peter Ward, Commercial Director at The Port of Tilbury said: “As a port which has been operating for hundreds of years in Tilbury, we know the importance of our heritage and in particular the link to Queen Elizabeth I. We are honoured to collaborate with Kite Spirit on this important project. We will look forward to the final work that will not only commemorate International Women’s Day but also showcase the power of artistic expression in capturing the essence of local historical moments.”

Commenting on the project, the Kite Spirit Textile Group said: “We are planning to create a panel celebrating the connection of Queen Elizabeth I to the Tilbury area. As well as researching the fashion of the time we have been exploring the symbolism in portraits of Elizabeth I which was used to emphasize her authority and status. This was essential for her to maintain her image as a female leader in a world which was at that time ruled by men.”

 For anyone wanting to find out more about Kite Spirit, the group will be part of the Port of Tilbury’s Open Day celebrations this year on Saturday 11 May 2024.

7 March 2024                                      – ends –


Scottish Secretary visits Scotland’s largest renewables hub at Port of Leith

Thursday 7th March 2024

The Secretary of State for Scotland, The Rt. Hon. Alister Jack MP, toured the nation’s largest renewables hub at the Port of Leith today (7 March) as the new riverside berth reaches a significant construction milestone.

Primed by an initial £50 million private investment by the port’s owner, Forth Ports, Leith will deliver Scotland’s largest renewable energy hub on a 175-acre site – supporting Scotland’s energy transition plans, boosting local supply chains, creating new, high quality green jobs and making a significant contribution to the country achieving its net zero carbon emissions targets.

The Secretary of State was at the construction site of the bespoke riverside berth, which is being built by GRAHAM, with the piling and the creation of the foundation for the massive platform completed last month. Mr Jack oversaw the start of the installation of the pre-cast concrete sections which will create the surface of the heavy lift riverside berth. Over the next month, the team will install 108 sections which have been cast on site and constructed with an engineered lower carbon concrete.

Once completed this summer, the berth will be able to accommodate the world’s largest offshore wind installation vessels and will feature a heavy lift capability of up to 100 tonnes per square metre (t/m2), backed up by 175 acres of adjacent land for associated renewables logistics, marshalling and manufacturing.

The renewables hub in Leith is linked with Forth Ports’ ambitious plan to create a high-capacity FLOW (floating offshore wind) integration facility at the Port of Burntisland in Fife, taking advantage of the deep water, infrastructure and skills benefits of the Forth Estuary, as well as the Forth Green Freeport investment incentives package.

The Leith Renewables Hub will be part of the Forth Green Freeport’s strategically located tax and customs sites, which aim to reindustrialise central Scotland, generating thousands of high-quality green jobs by increasing trade and supporting the growth of businesses across the Firth of Forth.

Charles Hammond OBE, Group Chief Executive of Forth Ports, who hosted the Secretary of State today, said: “We welcome the Secretary of State’s visit to see for himself the scale of the renewables hub we are creating in Leith. We are transforming the port into Scotland’s largest renewables hub and, coupled with our vision to create a FLOW facility in Burntisland, we will advance the country’s delivery of a green economy rich in skilled employment and new infrastructure.

 “Our investment in Leith is crucial to the success of the Forth Green Freeport, which has the potential to support offshore wind construction projects and the hydrogen economy, and create local manufacturing content, local jobs and skills development for the next generation.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “It was a real pleasure to visit Forth Ports today to see progress on the construction of their new renewables hub. The project will make a huge contribution to our energy transition, as well as boosting local supply chains, creating new jobs and giving the local economy a real boost. 

“UK Freeports, and the tax breaks which go with them, encourage regional economic growth by promoting trade, investment and jobs. I am very pleased that the UK Government has brought two to Scotland, as well as two Investment Zones. They are a key part of the UK Government’s strategy to grow Scotland’s economy.”

In 2023, Forth Ports launched its Net Zero Plan and the actions it is taking to achieve a Net Zero carbon operation by 2042.  The company, which is Scotland’s biggest port operator, also outlined an interim target of achieving carbon neutral emissions (Scope 1 and 2) by 2032, while creating an infrastructure platform – like Leith and Burntisland – to accelerate the UK’s path to a decarbonised economy.

About The Port of Leith

Leith’s proximity to the important North Sea offshore wind sites, coupled with the natural deep waters of the Firth of Forth and existing skills base, makes the port a strong location to support planned developments, as well as the anticipated pipeline of ScotWind projects, both fixed and floating. The Leith Renewables Hub has the potential to:

  • Make a major contribution to Scotland achieving its 2045 net zero greenhouse gases target
  • Secure the Firth of Forth as the driver for Scotland’s just energy transition
  • Support up to 1,000 high quality, long term direct jobs and about 2,000 indirect jobs to Leith specifically
  • Further underpin the position of Scotland’s Central Belt as a leading area of engineering and manufacturing skills and capabilities.
  • Works began in January 2023 on the marine and land-side port infrastructure upgrades, with completion expected in summer 2024.

7 March 2024                                                – Ends –


Port of Grangemouth welcomes Fiona Hyslop MSP to the busy freight hub

Wednesday 6th March 2024

Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, was welcomed to Scotland’s key strategic freight hub at the Port of Grangemouth today (6 March). In her first visit to a major port in her new role, the Cabinet Secretary was briefed by the senior port team, including CEO designate, Stuart Wallace, on the investment programme underway at the port – and across the group’s Scottish ports – including upgrades to infrastructure, equipment and rail.

Commenting on her visit, the Cabinet Secretary said: “The Port of Grangemouth is a crucial gateway to Scotland and has a key role to play in reducing transport emissions as well as supporting national, regional and local economies. Forth Ports should be congratulated for its commitment, and the actions it is taking, to achieve a Net Zero carbon operation by 2042. I am keen to work with the port to ensure its benefits to Scotland are maximised. Commitments like this support our National Transport Strategy and we will continue to work with the freight sector to reduce emissions and make a significant positive contribution to our Net Zero target.

The Port of Grangemouth, which handles 30% of Scottish GDP, will be a strategic site as part of the new Forth Green Freeport which will help to transform the port and the surrounding industrial complex into a major low carbon logistics, fuels, processing and R&D centre for the Scottish economy.

Stuart Wallace, CEO designate of the Forth Ports Group, who led the visit, said: “It was a pleasure to host Ms Hyslop today and to showcase the key role the Port of Grangemouth plays in Scotland’s logistics and freight sector, connecting importers and exporters to mainland Europe and beyond.

 “The port’s growing international and domestic freight network seamlessly supports Scottish traders in efficiently moving their materials and goods to and from international destinations.”

Derek Knox, Director of Operations – Scottish Ports, commented: “The Port of Grangemouth is the country’s largest port and is Scotland’s freight hub of choice.  The Forth Green Freeport’s investment incentives, skills and infrastructure development package will build further momentum behind the growing port-centric footprint of the port, while supporting the growth of new green industries across the Forth Estuary, as the Scottish economy continues its just transition to net zero.”

 The Port of Grangemouth operates Scotland’s largest container port and freight hub. More than £6 billion worth of goods passes through Grangemouth each year including steel plate, timber, paper and equipment for the oil and gas industry. There are regular container services from Grangemouth with frequent sailings to mainland Europe and UK deep sea hub ports. Most of the major lines utilise these feeder services to link with mother container vessels plying between the world’s major ports.

 6 March 2024                                               -Ends-


Charles Hammond OBE receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Edinburgh Chamber

Friday 1st March 2024

One of Scotland’s most respected Chief Executives has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce. Charles Hammond OBE, who steps down as CEO of Forth Ports after 23 years later this year, received the accolade at a glittering awards ceremony in Edinburgh last night (29 February 2024). Forth Ports were also successful at the annual business awards winning in the Large Business of the Year category.

Charles has been active in the ports sector for over 30 years and his outstanding service to the business community was acknowledged by Edinburgh Chamber Chief Executive, Liz McAreavey: “We are delighted to honour, with our Lifetime Achievement Award, the considerable accomplishments and service of Charles Hammond OBE, who steps down as Chief Executive of Forth Ports this summer after a stellar career spanning 35 years. During his career he has overseen the significant and strategic growth of Forth Ports’ operations across the UK, has served the communities in which they operate and has fulfilled many leadership roles representing the interests of business, the industry, the Chamber and the city with great distinction.”

Charles led the port group through the challenges of the global pandemic where, as a key industry, the port sector had to remain active to keep food, medicine and medical equipment moving across the quaysides throughout lockdown.  As a champion of Net Zero, Charles recently set the company’s ambitious plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2042 and carbon neutrality by 2032.

He has been instrumental in managing the development of the people of Forth Ports with his latest “youth policy” bringing in new, young talent but also attracting a wider cohort of employees, thus bringing diversity and strength to its workforce.

The local communities around the ports are something Charles cares passionately about and is extremely proud that Forth Ports is the only port company in the UK to have successfully delivered two Freeport bids, one in the Forth Estuary and one in Tilbury.  Charles was instrumental in the creation of the Leith Community Trust with seed capital being provided by both Forth Ports and its customer base and the funds now being distributed to organisations.

Commenting on receiving the award, Charles Hammond OBE said: “I feel honoured and privileged to receive this award from the Chamber and I am very grateful. It is also fantastic for the team to be awarded the Large Business of the Year award too.

 My career achievements have not been a solo effort and I want to dedicate this award to the fantastic team at Forth Ports who will take the business forward.”

 A qualified lawyer, Charles, joined Forth Ports when it was a publicly run ports and river authority in 1989 as Company Secretary. He was appointed Chief Executive in 2001 and has overseen Forth Ports’ expansion to a point today when the company owns and operates eight commercial ports, including Tilbury on the Thames, six ports on the Firth of Forth and Dundee on the Firth of Tay. He also oversaw the company’s move from a publicly listed PLC to private ownership in 2011.

Charles was awarded an OBE in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to the UK ports industry and to Scottish business and in November 2023 stood down from his role as Chair of the UK Major Ports Group after 10 years at the helm.

Charles is currently a member of The Scottish Energy Advisory Board and is a strategic adviser to Ports of Jersey after 4 years as a Non-Executive Director and is a member of the Global Britain Commission. He has previously been Chairman of SpaceandPeople Group, the retail, promotional and brand experience specialist and is a past Chairman of Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh, the Economic Development Agency for the East of Scotland.

1 March 2024                                   – ends –


Two new pilot boats to join the marine fleet working on the Rivers Forth and Tay

Monday 19th February 2024

Forth Ports, the UK’s third largest port group, has placed an order for two new pilot boats to join their fleet working on the Rivers Forth and Tay. The investment in the vessels to work on the busy waterways will see the arrival next year of the next generation of pilot boats built by Holyhead Marine.

Pilot boats* are important vessels on the river as they transport maritime pilots to the ships that need guided safely into port through the lock gates in Leith and Grangemouth, to a berth at a quayside in Dundee or Rosyth or to one of the deep-water anchorages in the River Forth. As the statutory river authority for the Forth and Tay, Forth Ports marine team operate over an area of 280 square miles of navigable waters.

The two pilot boats have been designed in Scotland by Camarc Design and will be built this year by Holyhead Marine in Wales. The pilot boats are 16.6 metres long and are the most advanced boats in operation with an updated hull design and engines offering increased efficiency. In the future, the engines would be capable of operating on HVO fuel (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) which could result in a C02 emission reduction of up to 90%. [**NB: further tech info is listed below]

Alan McPherson, Chief Harbour Master for Forth Ports’ Scottish operations, said: “It is important that we invest in our marine fleet to deliver the best service for river users and at the same time, decarbonise our vessels using the very latest engine technology. The Rivers Forth and Tay are two of the largest and busiest waterways in the UK with thousands of vessels using the rivers each year, ranging from very large offshore drilling rigs in Dundee, to container vessels heading to Grangemouth and cruise liners sailing into both rivers. We look forward to receiving the new pilot boats next year.”  

 Forth Ports currently has 5 pilot boats and 11 tugs operating across the River Forth and Tay.


19 February 2024                                          -Ends-


*The pilot vessel is commanded by a Coxswain and crew, who are experts in small boat handling. They take pilots to and from ships in sometimes challenging conditions, but always with safety being the number one priority. Pilot vessels are specially designed for the job and are designed to work in a challenging environment. The majority of vessels over 40m length will need a Pilot. The type of vessels will range from small coasters, container vessels through to cruise vessels and very large crude carriers (VLCC). The Forth Pilots are expert mariners, with specialised local knowledge and ship handling skills. Once on board they will liaise with the Master and bridge team, taking control of the conduct of the navigation. They will guide them safely into port through the lock gates, to a berth at a quayside or to one of the anchorages in the river.

**Designed by Camarc Design and built by Holyhead Marine. The pilot boats are 16.6m in overall length with a hull of 15.9m and breadth of 5.3m. The boats will each be fitted with a pair of Scania DI13 units developing 550bhp @ 1800 rpm complete with Twin Disc “Quickshift” MGX-5136SC Gearboxes and readily achieves a maximum speed of 24 knots at MCR with full load. They have a range of 270 nautical miles at 18 knots. The vessel is certified to the MCA Code of Practice for Safety of Small Workboats and Pilot Boats as a Category 2 Pilot Boat.



Forth Ports announces 18 Modern Apprenticeship roles across the business

Wednesday 7th February 2024

As part of National Apprenticeship Week, Forth Ports is announcing 18 exciting new Modern Apprenticeship opportunities for 2024 across our UK ports.

The roles include apprenticeships within Engineering, Finance and Operations and will offer valuable on-the-job training whilst also studying towards a professional qualification.

For any aspiring individual keen to join an organisation that’s focused on its people, has a genuine commitment to Net Zero and enables a supportive & collaborative working environment, Forth Ports wants to hear from you.

Please register interest via the links below.