Port bosses reject plea to drop scheme

A PORT company has rejected a call from a national environment group to abandon plans to develop Bathside Bay at Harwich and focus on increased capacity at Felixstowe.

A PORT company has rejected a call from a national environment group to abandon plans to develop Bathside Bay at Harwich and focus on

increased capacity at Felixstowe.

Friends of the Earth said plans for Bathside Bay would destroy 175 acres of "protected" mudflats used as feeding grounds by wading birds while the extension of facilities at Felixstowe would utilise an existing area of the port.

The group said the development plans for Bathside Bay and Felixstowe were similar in size and Hutchison Ports, the owner of both sites, should abandon the former and concentrate its attention on the latter.


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But the port company said both would be needed to satisfy demand for container facilities.

The proposed Bathside Bay development is scheduled to be examined at a public inquiry later this year. A similar inquiry will have to be held for plans to extend facilities at Felixstowe if objections are lodged.

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"By withdrawing the more damaging application, Hutchison could avoid the need for an expensive and lengthy public inquiry.

"If both sites were given the go-ahead the impact on the estuary would be devastating," said Mary Edwards, Friends of the Earth regional campaign co-ordinator for Friends of the Earth.

"Hutchison has conceded that the development of Bathside Bay will damage the environment. It now has an ideal opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to minimising the damage by focusing its developments on Felixstowe South," she added.

Ms Edwards said expansion on the Suffolk side of the estuary would make the most of existing facilities without damaging precious wildlife habitat and had to be the preferred option.

A consortium of environment groups including Friends of the Earth, the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts is calling for a national ports strategy to establish where demand for new container facilities should be met.

Paul Davey, Hutchison Ports spokesman, said the company had no intention of withdrawing its plans for Bathside Bay.

The proposals for Felixstowe would not alone be sufficient to meet demand for new container facilities.

"We believe that both Bathside Bay and Felixstowe South are both needed to meet UK demand, " he added.

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