Executives at port help to shape future
EXECUTIVES at Britain's top container terminal are being asked their views on the way ports should be allowed to develop in future.Felixstowe is hoping to start work this year on a major extension scheme, but has spent much of the past 12 months trying to overcome concerns and objections to the project.
EXECUTIVES at Britain's top container terminal are being asked their views on the way ports should be allowed to develop in future.
Felixstowe is hoping to start work this year on a major extension scheme, but has spent much of the past 12 months trying to overcome concerns and objections to the project.
Its main UK rival Southampton is involved in a lengthy public inquiry over whether it should be allowed to develop Dibden Bay.
Ministers, who have drawn up new policy which puts ports at the forefront of their economic and transport plans for the 21st century, believe it should be easier and quicker for ports to expand if they need more space.
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But they need to find out what the industry and the guardians of the country's coast and estuaries think should be the way forward.
They are now placing ports under the microscope and seeking opinions from a wide range of bodies to see how the problems of expansion can be overcome and an "appraisal framework" be drawn up for future developments.
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Felixstowe, which hopes to start this year on its £70 million plus scheme to extend to its current limits, has until April 5 to respond to the consultation, based on the document Modern Ports.
Geoff Dawe, the government official responsible for the consultation said: "The intention of the appraisal framework is to enable those involved with port projects to see how such projects measure up to the requirements of the government's sustainable transport policy."
Promoters of port developments will still have to show that they have considered a range of options, and the chosen scheme must be commercially viable.
While all transport forecasts point to prospective shortfalls in capacity for UK ports in future, there is a need to identify how this should be met – and where.
Operators must also assess whether existing facilities and increased efficiency could cater for expected demand, and demonstrate that new capacity will produce significant additional benefits.
Ministers disapprove of subsidy, but there may be cases of development where government funding is requested and in these cases developments will have to meet the new appraisal framework.
Felixstowe is fast-approaching capacity and wants to extend its Trinity Terminal quayside to create two more deepwater berths. There would also be a third railhead and more back-up land storage space.
The area was given permission for development after a long Parliamentary inquiry in 1988 and has needed a harbour revision order to confirm it can now be reclaimed from the River Orwell and built on.
Although the port has no plans for more expansion, taking fresh land would need a new Act of Parliament under current procedures.
Port experts are understood to be analysing other ways of expanding and increasing capacity, including creating deep-water berths at Landguard.