Port expansion gets 'urgent' green light

THE multi-million pound expansion of the Port of Felixstowe has been given an urgent green light - following fears of changing market conditions and the threat of growing competition.

THE multi-million pound expansion of a port has been given an urgent green light - following fears of changing market conditions and the threat of growing competition.

Suffolk Coastal District Council has agreed for work at the Port of Felixstowe to be phased rather than done all at once in a bid to get the improvements underway as soon as possible.

The planned expansion, known as Felixstowe South Reconfiguration (FSR), includes reclaiming 28 hectares of the existing dock basin and haven, dredging to create a deep berthing pocket, an additional 910 metres of quay wall, 13 quayside cranes and 50 rubber tired gantry cranes.

It also includes a rail connection, with a 700 metre rail terminal with eight tracks and up to six rail mounted gantry cranes, as well as sidings. However, one of the original planning conditions insisted that the complete scheme could not begin to operate until all the rail works had been completed.

The Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company (FDRC) will now be allowed to start the expansion following fears over market conditions and expanding competing ports.

Ivan Jowers, chairman of the development control committee, said: “I believe we have been strenuous in demanding conditions on the revised scheme that will safeguard the best interests of those living nearby to the Port while ensuring its future commercial viability.

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“We have gained guarantees that there will be a significant improvement to flood protection for the area, and a fixed timetable for all the agreed compensatory measures.

“While it is disappointing that the rail improvements will now not occur until the second phase, overall I think this is the best deal for everyone.”

Colin Hart, Suffolk Coastal cabinet member for economic development, said: “It is clear that to remain competitive, the Port of Felixstowe must soon increase its capacity.

“I am pleased that this council has been able to support its goal and so promote the future prosperity of the Port, its employees, associated industries and the local economy generally.

“We will continue to do whatever we can to support local jobs and enhance local companies, while of course ensuring that the best interests of this district are paramount.”

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