Port inquiry - 'fill capacity elsewhere'

A MAJOR port development should not go ahead unless capacity is filled elsewhere in the country, it has been claimed.A public inquiry is looking into the possibility of a £300 million deep-sea container facility at Harwich, which has divided opinions in the town.

A MAJOR port development should not go ahead unless capacity is filled elsewhere in the country, it has been claimed.

A public inquiry is looking into the possibility of a £300 million deep-sea container facility at Harwich, which has divided opinions in the town.

If the development from Hutchison Ports (UK) Ltd goes ahead it will expand the existing international port and create Harwich International Container terminal in adjoining Bathside Bay.

At the inquiry yesterdayJohn Noble, of the Harwich Fisherman's Association, questioned evidence put forward by Tendring District Council about potential economic benefits.

The authority has pledged its support to the proposals, although it has said the impact of transportation and associated noise and air qualities still need to be resolved.

Mr Noble said: "At the moment, you have an under used port at Thames Side, Felixstowe South is under used - there is room for improvement over there before you start using a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

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"They should make the best use of the existing infrastructure before using Bathside."

However, Roger Stewart, the assistant chief executive of Tendring District Council, said the demand was, "far bigger" than anything that Felixstowe could cope with alone.

Mr Noble also suggested the motive of the developers was profit and was not primarily concerned with the number of people employed and the long-term job prospects.

Mr Stewart said: "The last thing we would want to do is approve a scheme and find the number of jobs slashed suddenly."

If the scheme gets the go-ahead, the expansion would allow the port to deal with the largest container ships in the world.

There would be a further 1,400 metres of quay, 11 ship-to-shore gantry cranes and making the location the second biggest deep water dock in the UK.

The inquiry continues.

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