Work on port expansion now under way

MORE of the world's biggest ships will be able to visit at the same time once Felixstowe port's £250 million-plus expansion is complete.

MORE of the world's biggest ships will be able to visit at the same time once Felixstowe port's £250 million-plus expansion is complete.

Contractors Costain are today embarking on a 20-month drive to get the first phase of the scheme open and running by April 2010.

Group managing director of Hutchison Port Holdings, John Meredith performed the groundbreaking ceremony to mark the formal start of the project, known as Felixstowe South Reconfiguration (FSR).

“The expansion of the Port of Felixstowe is of great strategic importance in the European market and Hutchison Port Holdings fully supports this development which is critical to secure early deep water capacity for the UK market,” said Mr Meredith.

Chris Lewis, chief executive officer of Hutchison Ports UK Limited, which owns the Port of Felixstowe, said: “This is a significant day for the Port of Felixstowe and marks the beginning of a new era in our development.

“While we are already able to accommodate the largest vessels on the market, FSR will enable us to handle more vessels simultaneously, resulting in even better facilities for our customers and securing our position as the UK's number one port.”

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Costain was appointed in May to construct the new 1,285-metre deep water container terminal at Landguard.

Over the past few months, preparatory work has been taking place capacity, including demolition of a number of old buildings and warehouses.

The next stage of the project will be to fill in the Dock Basin, the oldest and historic heart of the port, which was dug by hand in 1882 and handled its first ship in 1886.

When fully operational in 2014, FSR will create more than 600 direct jobs, with an additional 860 in associated industries.

Latter stages of the work will also see a new heritage and visitor centre built at Landguard and a berth for the Felixstowe-Harwich-Shotley foot ferry.

Port chiefs were today warning hauliers that strong winds would affect operations at Felixstowe until mid-afternoon - with gusts of up to 54mph expected - and to delay their journeys if possible.

The port was likely to be closed for periods and Operation Stack brought into action.

Unsettled September follows gloomy August - see page 17.