Port expansion has wider benefits

FELIXSTOWE was today looking forward to a multi-million pound package of community benefits in the wake of the town's port getting the go-ahead for a £240m expansion.

FELIXSTOWE was today looking forward to a multi-million pound package of community benefits in the wake of the town's port getting the go-ahead for a £240m expansion.

The government approval, revealed in later editions of yesterday's Evening Star, will mean the container terminal's owners Hutchison Port Holdings will have to pay for improvements to the A14 dock spur roundabout and the A14/A12 Copdock interchange to increase capacity and enhance safety.

Acoustic fencing will be put alongside the A14 at Trimley St Mary and Trimley St Martin to cut out traffic noise from the dual carriageway.

At Landguard, a new visitors' centre will be built, featuring displays, educational exhibits, toilets and a café.

There will be a new bigger viewing area for up to 65 cars, plus a pedestrian area with coach parking facilities, a bus stop and turning circle to allow access by public transport.

A permanent landing stage for the Felixstowe-Harwich-Shotley foot ferry is included in the design, and is being developed in conjunction with the Haven Gateway Partnership.

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The port is also contributing funds towards the management of the Landguard peninsula, and also for improved footpath lighting, cycleways and a traffic plan.

The scheme is expected to create nearly 1,500 new jobs - 621 port jobs and 860 in dock-related employment - within ten years of opening.

Chris Lewis, chief executive officer of Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited, said: “We are, of course, delighted with the news.

“There is a substantial and very obvious need for further UK port capacity, to cope with ever-increasing volumes of international trade.

“This decision is good news for shipping lines and UK importers and exporters, who can now be confident that extra capacity will be brought on stream as soon as possible.”

Redevelopment of Landguard Terminal and the Dock Basin, plus the new terminal across the harbour at Bathside Bay, could provide a significant boost for coastal shipping with more feeder services to UK and continental ports.

Suffolk Coastal council welcomed the go-ahead.

Cabinet member John Perry said: “This long-awaited decision should safeguard Felixstowe's status as being one of the most important ports in Europe, a vital gateway to local and national prosperity.

“While the announcement will be a significant jobs boost for our district, I am also pleased that our efforts have largely been successful to ensure that the impact of the expansion on residents and the environment will be minimised.”

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

Portfile:

Landguard Terminal will be redeveloped to create 1,350 metres of new quay equipped with 13 ship-to-shore cranes, to handle three ultra large container ships and a smaller one simultaneously.

The century-old flour mill and former P& O passenger terminal will be demolished, and the Dock Basin, the oldest part of the port, filled in.

A new rail terminal will be built, capable of removing a further 500,000 extra containers from the A14 to go by train.

Four-and-a-half miles of the Felixstowe-Ipswich rail line will be dualled at a cost of £46.6m to double the number of freight trains using the port.

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