Call for swift decision on port scheme

EAST Anglia's international business support agency yesterday called on the Government to give swift final approval for the deep-sea container port project at Bathside Bay, Harwich.

EAST Anglia's international business support agency yesterday called on the Government to give swift final approval for the deep-sea container port project at Bathside Bay, Harwich.

The Department for Transport announced shortly before Christmas that it was “minded to approve” the scheme, which is expected to create around 1,700 new jobs.

A further six-week consultation period expired last week, when the DfT also gave the definite go-ahead for the Felixstowe South redevelopment scheme to create more deep-sea container capacity on the other side of the River Stour.

Hutchison Ports (UK) Ltd, part of the international Hutchison Whampoa group, plans to create 1,400 metres of new quayside - able to accommodate the largest deep-sea vessels - on 274 acres of land at Bathside Bay, alongside its existing Harwich International Port facility.

George Kieffer, chairman of East of England International, said yeserday: “We were delighted to hear the Department for Transport's decision to allow the construction of Felixstowe South which enhances the competitiveness of the UK's maritime gateways.

“This also marks significant additional investment and commitment by Suffolk's largest inward investor and the region's biggest single-site inward investment employer.

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“Senior Government ministers have already referred to the south and east of the UK as the principal gateway for deep sea containers and have indicated that they are minded to approve the Bathside Bay development in Harwich which has overwhelming public support.

“It is now time for a definitive positive decision to be made on Harwich Bathside Bay proposal so that we can strengthen the facilities on offer in our region to attract potential inward investors and maximise the regeneration and employment benefits for this part of the Haven Gateway sub-region.”

UK container trade has grown consistently for a number of years and forecasts indicate that this growth will continue at around 5% a year for the period up to 2025.

The £300 million Bathside Bay development is expected to create up to 772 new jobs directly, with 930 more in associated businesses, generating £50 million per annum for the local economy. The Felixstowe South scheme is expected to pave the way for a further 1,500 new jobs.