Port expansion 'would hit fishermen'

A HUGE new container port at Harwich would devastate fish stocks, putting fishermen's jobs and fish and chip shops under threat, it was claimed last night.

By Juliette Maxam

A HUGE new container port at Harwich would devastate fish stocks, putting fishermen's jobs and fish and chip shops under threat, it was claimed last night.

Hutchison Ports wants to build a deep-sea port capable of handling 40,000 containers at Bathside Bay.

Last night, Tendring District Council's development control committee held a special meeting to discuss the 600-page planning application, which includes a small boat harbour and the demolition of the disused train ferry gantry.


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Members decided to recommend to a planning inquiry, due to be held in April, that the development should go ahead.

Those speaking at the meeting were both for and against the development.

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John Noble, of The Fisherman's Association, said the port plans would have a serious impact on fish in the area due to its environmental effects.

"There would be a loss of fishermen's livelihoods and even fish and chip shops will be under threat," he said.

Jenni Meridith, of Residents Against Port Expansion, said if the container terminal was built Harwich would become one of the country's worst pollution hot-spots.

She said night-time noise levels and light pollution would lead to sleep deprivation.

Cathy Shelbourne, of Starboard, a protest group from Shotley, said: "For us in Shotley there is no economic gain or any other gain. There are no jobs for us. There is nothing for us but destruction of the environment and loss in the quality of our lives."

John Mullan, of Shotley Parish Council, said: "Noise travelling across the water increases in intensity and the effect is far more resonant in Shotley than has been appreciated."

However, Colin Crawford, of Harwich Chamber of Trade, said the jobs the development would create were sorely needed.

"It's the largest single investment Harwich could hope to obtain for a generation," he told the meeting.

He added the Chamber unanimously supported the application.

A representative from Hutchison Ports, John Bowles, said: "This is the single largest investment in the local economy that this area is likely to witness in a 25-year period. It is a difficult balance between the positive benefits and detrimental impact."

Mr Bowles admitted the development would turn Bathside Bay, currently a site of special scientific interest, into an industrial area.

The application will be considered at a planning inquiry in April.

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