Port expansion sails ahead

BUSINESS at Britain's biggest container terminal has increased more than ten per cent this year – and is likely to grow even more in the next 12 months.

BUSINESS at Britain's biggest container terminal has increased more than ten per cent this year – and is likely to grow even more in the next 12 months.

Another 200 people have been employed to cope with the workload at Felixstowe, and more cranes and equipment brought in to use.

Now the port has what its managing director calls "vital breathing space" with the opening of a new £60 million extension to its Trinity Terminal.

It will allow the port to handle another 400,000 boxes a year which will put another 240,000 lorries on the A14 by the time it reaches capacity.

Over the next 18 years, further expansion of the port – if given the go-ahead by government – will add another 700,000 lorry journeys to the dual carriageway.

Opening the 270-metre extension, MP Gwyneth Dunwoody, chairman of the House of Commons transport select committee, spoke of the vital role of the UK's ports and the need for the best strategically-placed ones to grow.

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"We are an island nation and we need development and certainly need development in the import and export industry," she said.

Mrs Dunwoody said if the country was not in a position to deal with increasing trade it would cost jobs, investment and hit the economy.

She officially opened the new terminal extension by giving the instructions for the first box to be loaded on its quayside on to the ship Hanjin Rome, watched by a guests including Felixstowe mayor Don Smith, and representatives of firms involved with the project and port customers.

Richard Pearson, managing director of port owners Hutchison Ports UK Ltd, said there had been "tremendous growth" in business from the burgeoning Chinese economy and this year Felixstowe's trade had grown more than 10pc.

"Many shipping customers are telling us that next year will be even higher," he said.

The extension to Trinity Terminal gave the port "vital breathing space" but would not satisfy the need for increased capacity – it was only the appetiser, and the £242m redevelopment of Landguard Terminal and Bathside, Harwich, would be the main meal.

Those projects will solve the longer term capacity problems – providing handling space for another 3.2 million standard-sized containers in the Haven ports.

Trinity Terminal, which was started in 1981, is now 2,354 metres long, with 23 ship-to-shore gantry cranes – the 24th arrives in December – and is able to handle two of the world's biggest ships at the same time.

The first part of the new extension built by Costain Limited 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 work has taken about 18 months and takes the port to its northern limits, up to the earth mound which forms the boundary with the Trimley Nature Reserve.

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