New container port branded unnecessary
By Ted JeoryCLAIMS the UK needs a new £300million deep-sea container terminal in Harwich to handle more freight could be unfounded, making a huge port development unnecessary, an inquiry has heard.
By Ted Jeory
CLAIMS the UK needs a new £300million deep-sea container terminal in Harwich to handle more freight could be unfounded, making a huge port development unnecessary, an inquiry has heard.
A senior shipping consultant said yesterday his calculations on the UK's future freight handling needs suggested demand could be met at other ports.
Hutchison Ports (UK) Ltd wants to expand Harwich International Port and create an adjoining deep-sea container terminal on Bathside Bay.
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If the development goes ahead, it would mean a further 1,400 metres of quay, 11 ship-to-shore gantry cranes and capacity to deal with the largest container ships.
But in a written submission to a public inquiry in Harwich, Neil Davidson said if approval was given to other port developments, such as London Gateway, as well as Bathside Bay, there could be “considerable overcapacity in the market” - rendering Hutchison Ports (UK) Ltd's plan to expand in the town potentially unnecessary.
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Mr Davidson is a director of London-based Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd, consultants to Hutchison's competitor, P&O Ports, which has formally opposed the Bathside Bay application.
He said: “This is particularly the case if it is assumed that the Felixstowe South redevelopment proceeds to its full potential.”
Mr Davidson explained although demand for deep-sea container port capacity was expected to grow and remain concentrated on South-East terminals such as Southampton, Thamesport, Tilbury and Felixstowe, these ports were also facing stiff competition from continental ports, resulting in some loss of business.
He added that fact - and an announcement from Southampton Container Terminal that it plans to significantly increase its current capacity - “delays the date when a deep-sea capacity shortfall becomes apparent”.
Alistair Baillie, chief operating officer at P&O Ports, which wants to build at London Gateway, near Thurrock, earlier told the inquiry: “Sufficient deep-water port capacity can be provided elsewhere - at Felixstowe South and at London Gateway.
“Therefore, it's my submission that the additional capacity sought at Bathside Bay cannot said to be justified by any imperative reasons of overriding public interest at this point in time.”
Since the Bathside Bay plan was unveiled in October 2000, objectors and supporters have launched campaigns and many are due to give evidence to inquiry chairman Ken Smith