Review 2020 / Outlook 2021

Members Corner

Source: Ports of Normandy, 2021-01-22

"After a year 2020 that obviously saw a great deal of disruption, Ports of Normandy looks forward to 2021 with some great projects ahead. Brexit could well lead to a reshuffling of the cards as far as cross-Channel traffic is concerned, and Ports of Normandy has every intention of consolidating and even developing its position as leader at the Western end of the Strait. Marine Renewable Energies will soon begin to boost traffic through the ports, proving that the strategy of developing Ports of Normandy and the investments made were the right ones. On the works side, with the renovation of the Colbert bridge in Dieppe, the replacement of the Colombelles bridge over the canal linking Caen to the sea and the creation of a rail motorway terminal at the Port of Cherbourg, there is no shortage of new projects, proof of our determination to invest in Normandy," Hervé Morin, President of the Normandy Regional Council and Ports of Normandy.


In 2020, virtually all the traffic indicators for Ports of Normandy's three ports - Caen-Ouistreham, Cherbourg and Dieppe - were on red. The public health crisis mainly impacted the passenger business (cross-Channel, cruising, and to a lesser extent, the marinas) with a 12% fall in tonnage. Regarding Channel crossings, Ports of Normandy held up quite well in the goods (cargo?) segment, with a drop in tonnage that remained limited to 15% and a fall of about 6% in the number of Heavy Goods Vehicles crossing, a performance similar to those recorded at the main Channel crossing points. Conventional traffic continues to grow and has come through unscathed, ending the year with 2% growth. Ferry companies and concession holders are also facing major difficulties and earnings have collapsed in spite of vessels being out of service due to COVID.

  • Cross-channel: -74.3% pax/-14.56% freight (tonnage)/-5.92% Heavy Goods Vehicles
  • Conventional: +2.38% (a positive result thanks to the very good level of cereals exports through the Port of Caen-Ouistreham during the first half of the year)
  • Cruising: no cruise ship port calls in 2020
  • Fishing:
    • Cherbourg: -13% in tonnage
    • Dieppe: -3% in tonnage
  • Ship repairs:
    •  -4% at Cherbourg
    •  -24% at Dieppe
  • Marina visitors:
    •  -50% at Cherbourg
    •  -31% boats at Ouistreham, +12% overnight stays
    •  -14% boats at Dieppe, +22% overnight stays

With GDP expected to be down 10% in 2020, COVID will have had an unprecedented impact on the French economy. The exact scale of the impact on port activity in 2021 remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that it will be considerable. In addition to that, uncertainty remains on fishing and cross-Channel freight due to Brexit, and of course on when and how the passenger business will pick up.
Nevertheless, the recent consolidation of different types of traffic at Caen (poplar logs, maerl, attapulgite and energy wood), the first stirrings of the new MRE traffic and the cross-Channel service, with substantially expanded links with Ireland and England, are three important reasons to be optimistic.
To accompany this positive outlook and help boost Normandy's marine economy, Ports of Normandy has chosen not to increase its prices in 2021 and continues to apply a reasoned, positive development strategy.


Ports of Normandy, leader in cross-Channel operations at the western end of the Strait

  • The very strong increase in traffic and the service offering to Ireland through Cherbourg with up to 12 departures a week (to Dublin and Rosslare) is truly the one piece of good news this new year, confirming Cherbourg as THE number 1 French port serving Ireland. Normally, 35,000 trailers travel between Cherbourg and Ireland each year. For the month of January alone, the port expects to reach 9,000 trailers! Irish Ferries, Stena Line and Brittany Ferries are currently operating more vessels (5 to 6 per week) and larger vessels into the Port of Cherbourg.
  • Plans to create a rail motorway terminal at the Port of Cherbourg
  • Studies on the reorganisation of the Ouistreham ferry terminal and work to reinforce the West bank (€3m)
  • The resumption of daily Cherbourg/Poole rotations with the Cotentin (BAI) since 1 January and the introduction of a third rotation between Dieppe and Newhaven.

MRE: from plans to implementation

  • At the Port of Cherbourg, LM Wind Power will continue to recruit to reach 550 employees.
  • Sodranord, Van Oord's French subsidiary, will have a base at the Port of Cherbourg for 20 months from 1 February 2021 onwards. A site covering some 5 ha will be used by Sodranord for its logistics operations for the foundations of the Saint Brieuc offshore wind farm. The anchors for the foundations will be brought into the port by sea, stored and then delivered to the installation vessel which will lay them. About 80 port calls are expected. This project is the fruit of Ports of Normandy's efforts to make Cherbourg THE French port serving the MRE business.
  • EDF has entrusted Ports of Normandy with the role of contracting authority for the construction, at the Port of Cherbourg, of the Fécamp offshore wind farm hub. The studies and tendering process will be taking place in 2021. Construction work will begin in spring 2022.
  • Ports of Normandy will be starting the last phase of the work on redeveloping the outer harbour at Ouistreham before the summer. This involves consolidating the banks, dredging the outer harbour, building the pontoons for the maintenance base, but also for the fishing port and the marina. At the same time, EDF will be starting work on the construction of the Ouistreham maintenance base, from September onwards.
  • Finally, Ports of Normandy will be conducting a preparatory study on the creation of an MRE maintenance base in Dieppe.
  • Port of Caen-Ouistreham
    • Restoration of the banks at Caen-Ouistreham
    • Renovation of the north-west mole head at the lock
  •  Port of Cherbourg
    • Plans to build a rail motorway terminal. As soon as Brittany Ferries confirms its commitment to this project, Ports of Normandy will be starting discussions prior to launching the calls for tenders for the contracts for works, which could begin in the first quarter of 2020.
  • Port of Dieppe
    • Improvement of navigability at Dieppe: tens of vessels a year call at the Port of Dieppe to unload land wind turbines. But the turbines are getting bigger and so, therefore, are the ships that transport them. To keep this traffic, the Port of Dieppe needs to adapt. A first step will be to digitalise the port's infrastructures. In 2021, Ports of Normandy will sign a tripartite agreement with the French Maritime Academy (ESNM) and the pilot station. Digitalisation will allow simulations to be carried out and confirm that the measures envisaged to receive larger ships are appropriate. There are also plans to review the facilities and equipment to be installed: lighting, creation of position marks in the swing basin and a leading line system for the harbour entrance channel.
    • Reinforcement and upgrading of Quai de Norvège
    • Creation of new roads around MIM and SAIPOL
    • Drawing up of a Land Use and Sustainable Development Plan (SDADD)

In addition to these projects related to port activities, in 2021 Ports of Normandy will also be launching three major construction projects:

  • Replacement of the Colombelles bridge (€20m) Between 1 February and 15 March, Ports of Normandy will be carrying out a preliminary survey to find out the expectations, opinions and concerns of the local population regarding this project, on which construction work is expected to begin in 2022 with delivery of the bridge due in 2023. The ageing Colombelles bridge has come to the end of its life expectancy. It is subject to chronic breakdowns which regularly disrupt the flow of traffic. It therefore needs to be replaced. This is a much-awaited project located in an urban area that is undergoing considerable change. Ports of Normandy has set itself three major objectives for the implementation of this project:
    • To guarantee long-term, reliable operation of the structure in order to avoid the traffic issues caused when the bridge is out of use
    • To optimise the use of the channel by shipping
    • To ensure safe passage of pedestrians, cyclists and persons with reduced mobility, provide continuity with the existing cycle lanes and tie in with soft mobility plans for the surrounding area.
  • Repair of the Colbert bridge in Dieppe (€13m). After being listed as a Historic Monument on 3 November last year, "Dieppe's Eiffel Tower" is about to be refurbished. Before it undergoes its makeover, Ports of Normandy will be carrying out a complete diagnostic review of the bridge in spring 2021, which will allow it, among other things, to analyse the precise condition of the structure and decide how to proceed with the work to ensure a successful renovation of the bridge. This study will require the bridge to be closed for about 3 weeks. Ports of Normandy will take advantage of that period to assess the impact on road traffic. It is clear that the closure of the bridge during the works will have a major impact on traffic. Although the contractors will be encouraged to shorten the time taken for the work (estimated by the engineering consultancies at about 18 months), it will be necessary to work out the best deviation/alternative routes so that local residents suffer the least inconvenience possible whilst keeping costs for the local authorities to a minimum.
  • Creation of a trading, industrial and tertiary estate on almost of 17 ha of land in the Collignon area of Cherbourg
    From 27 January to 2 March, Ports of Normandy and the SHEMA (regional development company) will be organising a preliminary public consultation on this development project. The aim is to develop an offering of land for a trading, industrial and tertiary estate that interfaces with the bypass, the maritime public domain and the existing residential areas lying to the South and West. The project is designed to ensure landscape and functional integration (roads and paths) and create a business park that is well integrated with its immediate environment.

Fishing: making the most of our strengths and developing partnerships

  • Ports of Normandy will complete the seawater pumping system in the Produimer zone.
  • A study will be conducted to assess the economic benefits of organising the collection of catches from the ports (Le Tréport, St Valéry en Caux, and even Boulogne).
  • Also in Dieppe, a survey of buyers will be carried out with a view to bringing the opening of the Dieppe fish auction market into line with that of Fécamp.

Boat building and repairs: continuous improvement of facilities

  • At the Port of Cherbourg:
    • Refitting of the Cherbourg Synchrolift so that it can accommodate all configurations of vessels.
    • Ports of Normandy also wishes to upgrade its dry docking facilities for vessels from 300 to 500 T. Currently, the Synchrolift is not always economically competitive on the handling of 300 to 50 T ships due to the related costs (dockmaster, keel blocking, boatage, divers, etc.). We are therefore looking into the possibility of creating a system of bringing ashore and relaunching 200 to 500 T fishing boats and support vessels with a trolley/cradle using the existing Synchrolift installation. The aim is to find the best technical and financially viable solution that will allow simple, flexible and robust handling of vessels taking into account the aggressive environment where the trolley will be used and the multitude of different shapes and sizes of the vessels to be handled.
  • The Dieppe technical zone will be equipped with a modular shelter for sandblasting/painting operations.

Marina: adapting to a changing clientele

  • The Port of Cherbourg will be hosting 350 to 400 Ultim multihulls and monohulls for the finish of the Roller Fastnet Race between 7 and 15 August.
  • Caen will be hosting the Normandy Channel Race on 30 May.
  • Finally, work continues at the Dieppe and Caen-Ouistreham marinas with the concession holders to improve the "customer experience": Dieppe: implementation of an action plan to implement the improvements that came out of the satisfaction survey (phone reception, VHF, bathroom facilities, etc.), introduction of indicators, better signage, package offer with the Tourist Office.
    Caen: installation of extra safety equipment (fire extinguishers on the pontoons), digitalisation of customer services, improvement of the WiFi signal in the harbour, installation of automatic lighting on the South car park, package offer with the Tourist Office for a 2-day stopover in the Bassin Saint Pierre.

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