MP to open port expansion project

CONTRACTORS are today preparing to hand over an extension which will allow Felixstowe port to handle an extra 400,000 containers a year.MP Gwyneth Dunwoody will officially open the expansion project at Trinity Terminal on November 15.

CONTRACTORS are today preparing to hand over an extension which will allow Felixstowe port to handle an extra 400,000 containers a year.

MP Gwyneth Dunwoody will officially open the expansion project at Trinity Terminal on November 15.

Mrs Dunwoody, chairman of the House of Commons transport select committee, will attend a ceremony at Tomline House on the port.

Managing director of Hutchison Ports UK Ltd, Richard Pearson said: "The extension will allow us to increase our handling capacity by 400,000 standard-sized boxes per annum.

"It will provide vital breathing space until we are able to progress our proposals for additional capacity through the Felixstowe south reconfiguration (Landguard Terminal redevelopment) and the development of Bathside Bay in Harwich."

It has taken more than four years to get from planning application to completed quayside - and the port is already pressing ahead with its next big project.

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A public inquiry into its £242 million-plus proposals to redevelop Landguard resumes today. Details of that scheme were first announced two years ago and it is likely to be almost a year before the inquiry decision is known.

If it is given the go-ahead, it will double the port's capacity to 5.2m boxes a year.

The Trinity Terminal project has cost around £60 million including new equipment and has been completed around three months behind schedule.

Paul Davey, port corporate affairs manager, said three months' slippage was not unusual or excessive in a major project.

Contractors had suffered some problems with site conditions and landslips during work to reclaim land from the harbour which had put the scheme behind.

Mr Davey said the first part of the scheme came into operation about a year ago when six hectares of back-up land were handed over to provide storage for another 6,000-plus boxes. In all there will be 15 hectares of storage.

The quayside though was the most important part of the project and the extra 270 metres of quay will provide two more berths for the largest vessels afloat.

The work - Costain Limited was awarded the £28m civil engineering contract - has taken about 18 months and takes the port to its northern limits, up against the earth mound which forms the boundary with the Trimley Nature Reserve.

The Trinity development was granted by Act of Parliament in the 1980s and has been built in phases.

The port has been operating near capacity for some time and in desperate need of more quay space. The public inquiry into the Landguard scheme has been told Britain urgently needs more container capacity to cater for our insatiable demand for foreign goods.

British ports - including Felixstowe - have lost more than half of their transhipment business in the past five years because of pressure on berths.

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