Felixstowe: Port ‘finger quay’ to cater for big ships crosses first hurdle

Owners of the Port of Felixstowe want to build a "finger quay" at the southern end of its newest ter

Owners of the Port of Felixstowe want to build a "finger quay" at the southern end of its newest terminal. - Credit: Archant

Experts are preparing to make a full application for permission to build a “finger quay” extension at the Port of Felixstowe after successfully crossing the first hurdle.

The development will enable the port – Britain’s largest container terminal – to handle two of the world’s biggest ships at the same time.

Port owners Hutchison Ports UK have carried out a scoping exercise to explain the proposals and gain the views of a range of bodies over possible problems, mitigation and other work which might be needed as part of the project.

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) said the first part of the work had now been completed following a consultation exercise.

A spokesman said the MMO was now waiting for a full licensing application for the dredging work and construction of the 190-metre quay extension, and there would be further public consultation once this was received and active.

He said: “The applicants will now be assessing the advice gained through the scoping report exercise and using it to prepare their full application.”

It is not known how long it will take a licence to be granted, though the port would like to get on with the scheme next year.

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Construction on the multi-million pound extension, which will increase capacity on the quayside by 275,000 containers, will take 11 months and Hutchison Ports hope to have it completed by 2015.

It will be added to berths eight and nine, the £300million quay opened in September 2011 by the Princess Royal, and three new cranes will also be brought in to serve it. It is the arrival of new Maersk Line Triple-E vessels, which can carry 18,000 boxes and will be 400metres long, that has sparked the need for the extension.

The current south quay 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.

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.