SHoppers give views on port expansion

By James HoreSHOPPERS have been given the chance to see the proposals for a huge port development for the region.The multi-million-pound expansion could create almost 800 jobs if Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited extends Harwich International Port onto the nearby Bathside Bay site.

By James Hore

SHOPPERS have been given the chance to see the proposals for a huge port development for the region.

The multi-million-pound expansion could create almost 800 jobs if Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited extends Harwich International Port onto the nearby Bathside Bay site.

Three key planning applications have been submitted to Tendring District Council and a public inquiry is to be held before it can get the green light.

The proposals - which include doubling the length of the quay and allowing the port to handle deep-sea container ships simultaneously - have the backing of Harwich MP Ivan Henderson and the town council, but environmentalists and some residents are opposed to the scheme.

There was lively debate yesterdayamong shoppers in Harwich who discussed the proposals.

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Gordon Hamilton felt they would lead to a lot of pollution for the area. “We have to ask how far this will affect the River Stour,” he said.

“There will also be the noise from the containers being shunted around and there will be the noise from the container vehicles as well.

“I think it will be a disaster really, you can see from the maps just how close it will all be to the town. There would be a large car park near all the houses. The environment and the plans for Bathside are not really compatible.”

Ann Bownes, of Pattrick's Lane, Dovercourt, who lives about half-a-mile from the proposed port expansion, said she now regretted moving to the town.

“I could have moved to Clacton and I wish I had. There are several other people wondering whether to sell their houses or not and there are others which are up for sale already,” she added.

“I don't believe there will be as many jobs as a lot of people believe. If it goes ahead it will be spoiling Harwich for the next generation and affect tourism here.”

Mary Edwards, of Friends of the Earth, also took the opportunity to talk to shoppers about what she claimed would be the negative impact of any development.

“There is more than five times the capacity of ports actually required in the UK already,” she said.

“Come into Harwich down the A137 and B1352 that takes you through Manningtree and as you approach here, you will realise how beautiful the area is and what devastation this will cause.

“This will have an impact on congestion levels, on the wildlife and for the tourist industry.”

Sandra Simons, of Adelaide Street, Parkeston, said she was in favour of the changes.

“I am in favour if it brings jobs to the town. We are already facing the cranes anyway, so we are used to the view,” she added.

“They also need to dual the A120 if this is to go ahead. My son drives a lorry and has trouble getting out of the area. My fear is the port will get the go-ahead and they will not make the changes to the road.”

Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited corporate affairs manager, Paul Davey, said the number of jobs directly created by the expansion would be 722, all coming from the surrounding area.

He estimated there would be about 1,000 more jobs created in related industries, such as shipping agencies, forwarding and haulage.

“I don't think the development would have an impact on the tourist industry and could, in fact, help it. In Felixstowe you have people coming into the town to look at the ships,” said Mr Davey.

He added the earliest the first phase of the port could go ahead would be in 2006 if the Government took a positive decision following the public inquiry.

n Displays of the proposed port expansion will be on view at Fiveways, Dovercourt, from today to May 8 and at Dovercourt library from May 9 to 16.

Anyone wanting to make representations concerning the applications should do so in writing by June 2 to Nigel Hebden, planning and building services, Tendring District Council, Weeley, CO16 9AJ.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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