Port firm urged to drop terminal plan

By Ted JeoryENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have called on a company to drop its plan to expand its Essex port and concentrate on its Suffolk operations instead.

By Ted Jeory

ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have called on a company to drop its plan to expand its Essex port and concentrate on its Suffolk operations instead.

Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited currently has two plans on the drawing board - to create a new deep-water container terminal at Bathside Bay, Harwich, and to expand its container-handling facilities at Felixstowe Port.

But campaign group, Friends of the Earth, urged the company to withdraw the Bathside Bay proposal and plough all its resources into the Felixstowe project.

The plan for the new container terminal at Bathside Bay, which is due to go before a public inquiry in April, has split the community.

Some people fear it will cause irrevocable damage to wildlife, but others pointed out it would create hundreds of new jobs.

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Suffolk County Council's executive committee will discuss the Felixstowe plan at its meeting on Thursday and is set to welcome the proposal.

It said the development was likely to have a “significant positive” economic impact on the region and consolidate Felixstowe as Britain's “premier port”.

But the county council wants further negotiation to minimise the effect on the environment and raised concerns about the number of lorries heading to and from the port.

However, Friends of the Earth claimed far more damage would be caused to the environment by the proposed Bathside Bay development.

Its regional campaign co-ordinator, Mary Edwards, said: “The damage that will be done there will be far greater than at Felixstowe. Everyone I speak to in Harwich in favour of Bathside Bay only takes that position because they want work.

“We are calling on Hutchison to invest in a proper year-round ferry service between the town and Felixstowe. In that way people in Harwich would be able to take up the new jobs at Felixstowe without seeing their environment destroyed.”

But a spokesman for Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited said it had no intention of dropping the Bathside Bay scheme.

“Felixstowe by itself will not provide sufficient capacity to meet the future needs of the UK,” he added.

“It's not a case of either or, we need both - and that's after taking a strategic overview of the whole of the demands put on ports in the South and East coasts.

“As part of our Felixstowe south proposals, we have made an undertaking to improve the facilities for the Harwich ferry. Anyway, that's not the answer to the job shortages in that town.”


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