Outstanding Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)

The KTP was formed in 2008 to develop and embed a framework for sustainable port operation and development with an evidence-based approach to environmental and socio-economic issues within Falmouth Harbour. KTP award in 2008 (KTP007098) funded jointly by ESRC, NERC and Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC). This research presents a seminal investigation into management processes which facilitate a smaller port to ensure sustainable maritime operations and development.

This research has been undertaken by Professor John Dinwoodie, Dr Sarah Tuck and Dr James Benhin of the University of Plymouth. Professor John Dinwoodie specialises in maritime logistics and his research interests span systems in shipping and logistics, port management and sustainable environmental management, including Low Carbon Shipping. He has contributed to numerous journal articles on port management and the maritime logistics of the oil industry. 

Sarah Tuck is a specialist in maritime business with interests in small ports and stakeholder engagement and undertook a PhD (University of Plymouth, 2007) investigating social and economic aspects of the regional competitiveness of commercial ports and wharves in the South West of England, using a case study approach. James Benhin is a specialist in environmental economics who investigated the regional economic impacts of maritime operations.

Research in marine sustainability has typically featured particular scientific processes, impacts or models and any available environmental sustainability initiatives to support port managers have focused on large ports which possess sufficient resources to employ specialist staff or engage external consultants. A paucity of research hampers smaller ports. Further, maritime operations as opposed to port or shipping operations, have rarely been investigated. Popular methodologies which aim to build quantitative models concerned with port efficiency or competitiveness have limited relevance for smaller ports, and the development and deployment of qualitative methods, perhaps as case studies to investigate management processes and stakeholder engagement in smaller ports has been a neglected field. Perhaps surprisingly, the business processes of managing maritime operations in ports sustainably had not been investigated previously.​

To redress some of these shortcomings our research initially deployed a case study strategy to investigate the processes of environmental management in a smaller port in depth. FHC oversee maritime operations in a very environmentally sensitive setting, within a business context which incorporates the UK’s largest offshore marine bunkering operation. 

Local maerl beds are particularly rare and the impacts of routine maritime operations including anchoring and bunkering on such a sensitive environment have rarely been reported. To date a business process approach has not been deployed to investigate inputs and outputs to the processes of sustainable environmental management in ports at strategic, tactical and operational levels and important issues concerning stakeholder management and communication have been overlooked.

A Port Sustainability Management System (PSMS) emanated from our research, which now embeds environmental sustainability issues and management processes within a broader port management system. A CUC-ESF studentship award (ESF 11200NCO5) is investigating further the scope and processes which underpin implementation of PSMS in other ports. This ongoing work is intended to provide a platform to further refine the model and explore the process of dissemination both nationally and to other regions in Europe.