EFFORTS to improve air quality at Southampton’s cruise terminals have been declared the best environmental initiative in the industry.

Port operator Solent Stevedores has been investing in improving short-term and long-term air quality, in partnership with ports group ABP.

Its efforts have included a £1million investment in a fleet of 35 electric, emission-free counterbalance fork lift trucks for use at the port’s five cruise terminals.

The company received the prize for Best Environmental Initiative at the cruise industry’s Wave Awards.

Tom Dynes, operations director at Solent Stevedores, said: “We are incredibly proud to receive this award in recognition of our forward-thinking environmental initiatives.

“It is important for us to be a key player in the wider cruise industry movement to become more sustainable. We know that positive progress with air quality is also an important part of the future of the city of Southampton and we’re dedicated to being part of this.”

Solent Stevedores worked with staff to “embed” environmental values and introduced a cycle to work scheme. It says the work involved upgrading safety measures as well as improving the environment.

The Wave Awards were held in London with cruise lines, travel agents, ports and tourist boards present.  

Southampton-headquartered Solent Stevedores has been a family-run business for more than 20 years.

Its cruise operation in Southampton provides port services to operators including all the Carnival group companies, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Saga and MSC Cruises.

It handles some 450 cruise ship calls in the Port of Southampton every year.

Solent Stevedores’ electric counterbalance fork lift trucks are equipped with the latest safety technology and enhancements designed to improve comfort and reduce driver fatigue.

Companies involved in operations at the Port of Southampton have been looking to cut emissions and air pollution from cruise activity.

ABP initiatives include plans to install shore power, enabling vessels to switch off their engines and plug into power supplies.