A view into Falmouth Harbour with various boats and dock side buildings.

Project information

Project aim: To develop and embed a framework for sustainable port operation to address environmental and socio-economic issues within Falmouth Harbour
Project duration: 30 months
Project budget: £144,800
KTP sponsor: Economic Social Research Council and Natural Environment Research Council
Academic team: Professor John Dinwoodie, Dr Sarah Tuck and Dr James Benhin, School of Management
Associate name: Harriet Knowles
Degree studied: BSc (Hons) Environmental Science, University of Plymouth

Fast facts


Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC) is a Trust Port, which is an independent statutory body controlled by an independent board and without shareholders or owners. With increased activity and an emphasis on regulation and transparency, FHC sought the assistance of University of Plymouth academic experts, to enable them to fully understand potential environmental and socio-economic impacts to the harbour and identify operation management solutions to fulfil its obligation to future generations on issues surrounding environmental sustainability.
Harriet Knowles was appointed as KTP Associate in 2008 as a Maritime Sustainable Development Officer with FHC. With the support of University academic experts, Harriet identified key challenges the Port faced in undertaking baseline surveys and socio-economic and environmental impact assessments of current operations and the potential conflicts between environment and commerce.
The KTP exceeded the expectations of all of those involved, responding to FHC’s need to create and integrate Environmental and Stakeholder Management Systems by applying a robust scientific evidence-based approach in safeguarding business activities and using software in defining and mapping stakeholder relations and communications. By adopting a ‘systems’ approach to the overall management structure of FHC, a number of improvements were made and the company has seen a recent increase in annual sales turnover of £163,000.
The relationship between FHC and the University continues to flourish with University of Plymouth's Marine Institute currently involved in a scientific study with FHC to dredge part of Falmouth Harbour which will potentially generate millions of pounds for the local economy.


  • The project led to a 43 per cent increase in annual profits, with forecast profits over three years of £1.22m.
  • Substantial organisational change, safeguarding the Port’s future and embedding a new proactive response.
  • Port operations have benefited from an enhanced reputation, regionally, nationally and internationally.
  • FHC is now a more environmentally engaged organisation with enhanced credibility amongst stakeholders.
  • New integrated management system leading to FHC achieving ISO 14001 Accreditation.
  • Creation of two new full-time jobs.
  • Permanent employment for KTP Associate at FHC.
  • The University’s Marine Institute is involved in a scientific study with FHC to dredge part of the Harbour potentially generating millions of pounds for the local economy.
  • The KTP contributed to student projects.
Update: FHC and University of Plymouth's KTP team are celebrating after winning the Best Application of Social Science in a KTP award by the The Economic and Social Research Council. The project was also a nominated finalist in the Best Partnership category at the National KTP Awards, all of which is testament to the hard work and dedication of both the University's KTP team and the team at FHC. 

We are extremely delighted by the work that Harriet has done and what the KTP project has achieved, both in terms of research and stakeholder relations. By tackling key environmental issues head on, we are proactively instigating more efficient and environmentally aware methods of running our port that recognise our commitment to openness and transparency with the wider community.

Captain Mark Sansom, Harbour Master, FHC

Being a KTP Associate is a truly unique opportunity. With KTP, I’ve had the opportunity to develop both my academic and professional skills as well as contribute towards the future development of this organisation.

Harriet Knowles, Maritime Sustainable Development Officer, FHC