In his Nov 15 letter to the Echo, Powerfuel director Giles Frampton responds to Cllr Lambert’s claim that “Powerfuel’s plan to reduce carbon emissions by providing shore power to cruise ships has been sunk by Covid”.

He writes: “Portland Port already has more cruise visits booked in for 2021 than it had for 2020, so all indications are that this important business for the local area will continue to expand post-Covid…”

Sounds like a marvellous uptick. Except that Frampton is actually comparing the number of “bookings”, not the number of actual “cruise visits”, and in 2020 all but two of Portland Port’s bookings were cancelled.

It’s a bold move by Frampton to celebrate a barnstorming 2021 cruise season while we’re in the second wave of a global pandemic which decimated the international cruise industry.

As the World Economic Forum (November 6) says “colossal ships, complete with swimming pools, theatres and high-end restaurants, are now being pulled apart.” But Frampton doesn’t see this. What he sees, with an almost surreal optimism, is “all the indications” pointing to an “expansion” of the cruise business. What indications are these? Cruise companies going bankrupt? Perhaps he should listen to the NASDAQ stock exchange, which says (October 28): “The cruise line industry can’t seem to catch a break in 2020 and there aren’t any indications that conditions for the industry are going to get better.”

Frampton quotes a KMPG blog from July which cites an online survey from mid April, as if that’s proof, in mid November, of a fabulous cruise boom in 2021. Even the KPMG blog admits: “there is no clear timeline for cruise operations to start again.”

A key plank of Powerfuel’s economic argument for building the incinerator is that not doing so would negatively impact the cruise business at Portland Port.

In the planning application they say: “the continued success of the cruise business at the port could be adversely affected in future if the port is unable to provide shore power.”

The “continued success” of a shattered industry? This is preCovid financial forecasting in a post-Covid world. Frampton issues the same warped warning: “Without the shore power, Portland Port fears for all of that cruise business.” I hate to be the one to say it, but that ship has sailed. In fact it’s about the only ship that has.

The pseudo-economic fearmongering takes on a note of farce when Powerfuel claims: “Without the provision of shore power at Portland, cruise numbers are forecast to fall to just 10 per season by 2034, and ultimately to zero by 2045.” And the source of this terrifying prediction? According to the footnote: a “Powerfuel Portland estimation”. This is pure Powerfuel: a hectoring tone combined with an almost childlike absence of intellectual rigour.


The Portland Association