Date set for port inquiry

GOVERNMENT officials today announced the date on which a public inquiry will start into a proposed massive multi-million pound expansion of Britain's biggest container terminal.

GOVERNMENT officials today announced the date on which a public inquiry will start into a proposed massive multi-million pound expansion of Britain's biggest container terminal.

The inquiry into the redevelopment of the southern part of Felixstowe port will begin on October 26 and is likely to last weeks rather than months with no huge environmental protest expected.

It will be held at the old P&O passenger ferry terminal, which has been mothballed since the ferry services were axed some years ago.

A pre-inquiry meeting will take place on Monday July 12 at the terminal.


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The aim of the meeting is to help the inquiry inspector – who has not yet been appointed – and the participants to prepare for the inquiry proper, and enable the proceedings to be conducted as efficiently and speedily as possible.

By the time the Felixstowe inquiry gets under way, the one currently taking place into proposals for Bathside Bay, Harwich, also owned by Hutchison Whampoa, will be finished, awaiting a decision.

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Executives at Felixstowe have said there is a "clear national need" for more container capacity and hope to start their expansion scheme in 2006.

Environmentalists believe the project will do the least harm to wildlife habitat as it largely redevelop an existing industrial site.

They do have some concerns over potential impact on the Stour and Orwell Estuaries Special Protection Area Ramsar Site and Landguard Site of Special Scientific Interest, with large numbers of wintering waterfowl using the area and the new terminal coming between 90m and 250m in places into the harbour.

The scheme will see Landguard Terminal converted into a deepwater terminal able to handle the world's largest container ships.

It will also feature a new rail terminal, back-up storage land, and an extra 1,350 metres of quay, doubling the port's capacity.

A series of meetings is taking place between the port, the council and other interested groups to try to solve matters of conflict ahead of the inquiry.

The main aim is to agree mitigation measures to offset the impact of the development – particularly on such issues as pollution, traffic safety, TV interference, noise, and visual intrusion.

There has been huge concern especially about traffic the project will generate – estimates show there will be one million more lorry movements on the A14 on the Felixstowe peninsula by 2023 – and problems it will bring.

Also under discussion is a package of community measures which will include a visitor centre at Landguard and a new port viewing area.

n What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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