Felixstowe: Consultation starts on finger quay extension at Port of Felixstowe

It is proposed to add a 190-metre extension to the southern end of the new Port of Felixstowe South

It is proposed to add a 190-metre extension to the southern end of the new Port of Felixstowe South container terminal. - Credit: Archant

Views are being sought on proposals to build a 190-metre “finger quay” extension to enable Britain’s premier port to handle two of the world’s biggest ships at the same time.

The multi-million pound project will increase capacity on the quayside at the Port of Felixstowe by 275,000 containers, but executives say because no new areas of back-up land are due to be developed, it will not mean a huge extra throughput of boxes.

The Marine Management Organisation has published details of the project to add a new stretch of quay to the £300m extension opened in September 2011 by the Princess Royal.

It will be 190m long, 94m wide and take 11 months to build and it is understood the port is hoping to have it completed by 2015.

Three new cranes will also be added.

People have until August 23 to make representations or objections. Suffolk Coastal District Council has already given the scheme its blessing.

It is the arrival of new Maersk Line Triple-E vessels, which can carry 18,000 boxes and will be 400 metres long, that has sparked the need for the extension.

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The current south quay, known as berths 8 and 9, has cranes big enough for the ships but at 730m long it is 70m or so short for two of the vessels to berth at once.

In their environmental scoping report for the project, experts Royal HaskoningDHV said that since the original applications were made for the redevelopment of the port’s Dock Basin and Landguard Terminal back in 2003, there has been a significant increase in the size of container ships.

The company said: “In addition, the number of these larger vessels deployed on the key shipping routes calling at the Port of Felixstowe has increased.

“Consequently, the port is experiencing a significant shift in the profile of ships that its customers are seeking to service at Felixstowe and this trend is set to continue.

“Berths 8 and 9 were constructed to provide a two-berth container handling facility.

“However, it has become apparent that, in order to maintain the capability of the berths to handle two of the largest container ships due to operate in the market from 2013/14 – each of approximately 400m in length – berth 9 needs to be extended by some 190m.

“This capability is necessary to ensure that the Port of Felixstowe is in the best position to remain competitive, and to help to secure the future prosperity of the port, its employees, associated industry and the local economy generally.

“To achieve this, and to ensure that market share can be maintained, the port must be able to continue offering world class facilities through a two-berth facility at Felixstowe South and that facility must be capable of accommodating the largest container ships afloat or under construction.”

The project will involve dredging 740,000 cubic metres of material to provide the berth and enable a new steel-piled quay wall to be built.

As the extension is in the middle of the port area it will not affect wildlife in the estuary.