The Port of Great Yarmouth has announced the suspension of its container operation - with the £30m terminal’s £7m cranes set for removal before they have even been used once.

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EastPort chief executive Eddie Freeman described the decision, taken in conjunction with their container terminal operating partner PSA Great Yarmouth, as a “positive move”.

He said it had been made in response to both the growing demand from the offshore wind energy sector and the continuing economic slump in the container business.

The cranes, which have stood idle since their much-vaunted arrival by boat in May last year, will be taken away to create more quay space for energy firms. However, their return, if and when the economic outlook improves, has not been ruled out.

Mr Freeman said EastPort was already “actively engaged” in discussions with major players in windfarm development.

The container operation was announced as an exciting new venture by EastPort’s parent company International Port Holdings (IPH) at the time it signed the deal to deliver the outer harbour in 2007.

However, although it was billed as the perfect feeder port for large container bases such as Antwerp, not a single container vessel has since been attracted to Yarmouth.

Vociferous critics have been quick to dub the port “a white elephant” and EastPort came under attack in September when it apparently turned its back on the chance to use the cranes for the first time, to transport a load of power station parts to Africa for the freight firm Panalpina.

Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis expressed disappointment that the port was pulling out of the container business and described the cranes as “iconic symbols”.

He said: “I am sure there will be a lot of public feeling about the cranes disappearing, but I can understand them taking the business decision.

“They are looking to capitalise on the offshore renewables industry and that is going to bring massive opportunities for the region.”

Yarmouth Borough Council cabinet member for regeneration Graham Plant said he took a positive view of the company taking the decision so quickly and decisively.

He said: “The original business plan might have been around the container business but since 2007 that has slumped by 40pc because of the tough economic times and it is now literally on its knees.”

He said Yarmouth’s geographic position, close to the sites of the third round of windfarm development, combined with its offshore expertise, made it perfectly placed to cash in on the new opportunities.

He pointed to the fact that one local offshore windfarm firm Seajacks, whose multi-million pound jack-up barges have made the outer harbour their home port, has already agreed to build a major office complex on adjacent land on South Denes.

He said: “It is my view that if the cranes are in the way of further development, I will be happy to see them go.”

35 comments

  • Three years lost because of "mickey mouse" councillors playing at being businessmen If they had kept out of things and left it all to the Business comunity we would not have lost out

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    Cooperman

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

  • Here we go again, now the outer harbour is not going to support cargo ships. Lets be honest you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that the geography,sea depths are wrong and if you build outwards towards sea erosion will occur further along the coast ( Hopton ) may i suggest that a lot of people have made a lot of money from feasability studies to construction unfortunatly not the people who were meant to benefit from the outer harbour,The people of great Yarmouth and surrounding areas. and as for Brandon Lewis suggesting the cranes are an "iconic symbol" may i again suggest that they are no more than an eyesore.All the councillers involved with this project really need to be held accountable for the obscene waste of money spent, you have hoodwinked the government and most sadly the people of Great Yarmouth you are all a disgrace.

    Report this comment

    chamakh29

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • Can't you do something about the disinformation flowing from GY Borough Council. Regeneration Councillor Graham Plant's remark about the container business being "on its knees" is about two years out of date. "Global Trade to Grow by 8.1 Percent Bill Mongelluzzo | Jul 28, 2010 5:35PM GMT The Journal of Commerce Online - News Story Container Shipping| Trucking| Rail + Intermodal| Air + Expedited| Logistics + Economy Report forecasts a 10 percent increase in containerized trade World trade by sea, land and air will grow by 8.1 percent in 2010 after declining by 7.2 percent last year, according to a forecast published by IHS Global Insight. Global Insight’s Second Quarter Trends in World Economy and Trade also projects that containerized trade worldwide will increase almost 10 percent this year, with the main east-west ocean trades growing even faster at 10.6 percent. The global container trade is projected to grow by 6.8 percent in 2011. By contrast, the global container trade increased only 3 percent in 2008 and declined by 8 percent last year. The strong growth in the east-west trade lanes is attributed to restocking of inventories in North America and Europe." Source: Journal of Commerce Also Felixstowe has got very busy again this year in line with the figures quoted above and business is rapidly heading back to where it was before the recession. There's more to this than meets the eye, methinks.

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    doblir

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • Yet another waste of our money. No wonder the country is in trouble.

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    Johnny Norfolk

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • This has left us with a blight on the landscape. The pier is crumbling and since construction started on the outer harbour, the beach at Hopton and Corton has virtually disappeared. The outer harbour was going to be a white elephant right from the off. Everyone knew that; but no one involved with this enterprise was listening. Felixstowe was expanding and there was always spare capacity at Harwich. So who in their right mind was going to drive a large container lorry along the Acle Straight (if it was open) and along the front of the Town Hall to get to the harbour? This was another of Labour`s big ideas to spend money to woe the voters. Labour should instead have dualled the A47 years ago. That would have brought hundreds of real jobs to the town. I for one will be glad to see the cranes go as well as everyone who was involved in this whole pathetic enterprise. We want our pier back and returned to good working order. Time for a public enquiry into this complete and utter waste.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • Well this is sad news for Yarmouth and for Lowestoft for that matter,what happened to the promised jobs?Was it ever viable with the roads,single carriageway A12,Acle straight,parts of the A11.What haulier would choose that over the dual carriageway A14 from Felixstowe.Never mind the roads through Yarmouth itself.What a complete and utter waste of public money,those responsible should hang their heads in shame

    Report this comment

    Seagull

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • Eddie Freeman seems to be an eternal optimist and conveys a silver lining in whatever disasterous scenario crops up. Is the the east coast's answer to Comical Ali?

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    swift pint

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

  • Could not some of the concrete wall area of the harbour be used as a car park to replace the area that was lost when the harbour was built. An ice cream van and a cafe and a slot machine arcade would also be an idea together with a small parking fee may bring in some much needed revenue to pay for this white elephant.

    Report this comment

    mike smith

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • Now we have been told what is happening to the Outer Harbour, will Eastpoint remove the gates (stopping us local people driving around the Harbours Mouth) and give us our road back. There is no excuse as there is no container traffic and no immigration.Also at Dover they let the people fish from the Quay Side so please Eastport give us access to our Harbour back. You missed the boat in 1992 when Norfolk Line left for Felixstowe.

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    Father Christmas

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

  • If Brandon Lewis describes the cranes as Iconic symbols may I suggest they are that they are placed is his garden and lets see how iconic they are there? Heads should roll for the momentous mistake.

    Report this comment

    Vic Sponge

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

  • Once again, the view of the general public turns out to have been the right one all along. A huge waste of money and a blot on the landscape for ever. At least the Marina Centre is used by local people, this thing was never going to be used. Obvious to everyone apart from those who made millions making up stories about how great it was going to be! Probably the same people who designed our relief road in Lowestoft and forgot we needed a Bridge to connect the two pieces of it.

    Report this comment

    DaveG

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

  • Another chapter in a sorry tale of deception First the Ferry service 1000 jobs 120000 tourists. then the Containers and fairytale. Now wind turbines and decommissioning. They are like my little dog, she looks in her toy box and thinks shall I take the fluffy toy or the squeaky bone. We have been hoodwinked into taking on £millions from the rates whilst those who are supposed to serve us have have been wheeling and dealing with our childrens future We Have All Been Conned

    Report this comment

    Cooperman

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

  • A pointless waste of public money, No decent rail or road connections, limited facilities hence disaster. The road to hell is paved with good intentions,Yarmouth desperately needs jobs but this is not the way to go about it.

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    Harry Rabinowitz

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • I don't know much about Eastports plans, but I do know a fair bit about port based haulage operations. The downturn in the economy had a massive affect on container work out of Felixstowe and it still hasn't recovered to pre crash days. Also Felixstowe specialises in Deep Sea container work, I think like other small East Coast ports Yarmouth was looking at the Short Sea market. Poor roads or not haulage companies will operate from wherever the work is, they don't call the shots the shippers do and the shippers will go to the port that offers the best price, they aren't worried about the road as long as the stuff gets delivered. I think there are more miles of Single Carriageway road to Harwich than to Yarmouth yet it is a successful port and if you want to see a really poor road to a port try Wallasea Island near Southend. Ships come in from the Baltic loaded with wood and steel and truck and it's all shipped out by trucks which have to negotiate there way round miles of rural roads then Southend before getting onto the main routes.

    Report this comment

    Jas

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

  • John Cooper and I have been putting letters on the Mercury letter page for a couple of years. To read what we have said go to letters on this website and look at the archives to read what we have said. saveourport@btinternet.com

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    gorleston.boy

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • About time for the councillors who voted for this and the board of East Port to stand down I'm thinking. How on earth can this waste of public money be countenanced?! Where is the district auditor? How can wasting £7 million be best value for money? Time for some freedom of information enquiries into the ongoing costs for us taxpayers who now look like we are going to be paying for something never used and for what we don't actually have anymore! It's the Marina Centre all over again but on a far grander scale.

    Report this comment

    fester1902

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • Good points made by Walter and Caistor Boatyard, whoever designed the harbour without taking local currents, erosion of the coast line and swell into account, could not have done this before, or should be had for incompetence. Secondly the Board of East port has done nothing but cover up and excuse their mistakes, they should resign and councillors who supported this project without enough forethought have to stand aside and let others deal with such impoirtant developments in future. Gt. Yarmouth harbour could still, with some re designing, provide a ferry service, next to the off shore energy firms who will hopefully be askled to pay market rates for their use of the harbour, after all 15 % of their development efforst is paid by us taxpayers via the Non fossile fuel obligation. There are elections coming up, choose an independent candidate who is able to break the hold of party politicians and help herhim to win.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

  • So all we now have using the outer harbour is a grain ship which is at the moment moored outside the harbour waiting for the wind to change so it can continue loading it's cargo. The ship damaged the quayside, her mooring ropes parted because of the swell inside the harbour so had to suspend loading and was taken out by two tugs which were brought up from Lowestoft. The ship has been moored there since Monday. I cant see the grain company being very impressed by this. Perhaps they will see that it wasn't such a good idea to use the outer harbour and go with the cranes.

    Report this comment

    Paul

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

  • wont work for me

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    Cooperman

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

  • We all wanted this to work, the politicians and business leaders were often quoted in the media making unsubstanciated "futuristic quotes" that raised the level of expectation from the public. When a few informed folk questioned the maths and the accountability of elected officials with the public purse, they covered their tracks by putting a 30 year embargo on the deal that gave away our facilities and took our money. To further heap insult upon injury the same elected officals turned on the little boys who declared "the emperor has no clothes on" by going to print with comments such as "Mischievous", "Misguided" and Poisonous". The tide is literally turning on all those bit players with their noses in the trough and my cash in their back pockets. Just give the truth and no more spin or futuristic quotes.........

    Report this comment

    The Lone Gunman

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • Lobby your councillors for a full explanation on this circus. Maybe if they had not sacked an experienced workforce rather than relying on casual labour they may have got some container trade.

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    Basin Digger

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • Now the cranes are going is the road going to reopen to the public as now there is no need to have it closed off. I think not, secure access is another selling point along with all the land and buildings our council gave away. When they can eventually sell the port offices on the quay will the money be going back to the council, no chance!!!

    Report this comment

    Paul

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • Mr Freeman keeps telling us that there is a downturn in the container business, but Felixstowe is expanding, adding cranes and taking on over a thousand extra staff to cope with the increase in trade? Was the outer harbour a bad business decision or is there a hidden agenda? What was the reason for declining the recent container shipment? Was it so the cranes could be sold as "unused"?

    Report this comment

    walter

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • Since there are no security issues with grain exports, there can be no valid reason to deprive us all of the use of the road round the harbour loop. This public road should be reopened immediately. Even more indefensible, is the continued closure of the Gorleston Harbourmouth car park. The public have been deprived of much valued assets and facilities. Its time they are returned to our use. It would be nice to see a thriving outer harbour, but there is more chance it will end up as a marina for the wealthy weekend sailors. One lesson to be learnt is that giving millions to private companies, who will certainly retain any profit made, is not a sound investment for the taxpayer. Will the money received from the sale of the cranes be used to repay some of our £18 million contribution? Ho ho ho.

    Report this comment

    sprowstonphile

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

  • It was obvious this was going to happen. Why would any company sail from Holland to Yarmouth when they could go to Felixstowe and send their goods around the country via the A14. Total waste of time and money

    Report this comment

    Quinny74

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • I can remember attending a meeting at GYBC offices where the Toiurism Officer gave a most exciting account of how this would be so successful. There were hitches even then in that they recognised that the entrance to the harbour would need constant dredging due to the tidal sweep and deposits making a bar. The cranes have been to my knowledge operated once a week to prevent them from seizing up. Entire project a total joke and at what cost ?

    Report this comment

    Eileen Dover

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • This outer harbour was a big public con from the start it was never intended for containers or ferries; it was built using an obscene amount of taxpayers money for the offshore industry. Yes we have been had again.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • Brandon Lewis describes the cranes as Iconic symbols,i don't think the dockworkers who lost there jobs will see them as that. I am also sure if i was to make a £7million mistake in my job i wouldn't have one to go back to !

    Report this comment

    greenmanwalking

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • What a waste of time and money.The cranes have been stood idlel since they have arrived!!!.What are eastport going to do after the windfarms are over!!!!? Heads should roll for this!!!

    Report this comment

    NCFC1902

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • If removing the cranes is a "positive" step, I would hate to think what is a negative one. It is a good job that Eastport do not organise festivities in a brewery!

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    Tony Harris

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • it is not just the cranes,hidden away in the old coal yard are reach stackers ,tugs, and trailers to go with them. so all in all somebody will benefit from all this brand new but at knock down price equipment courtesy of the gt yarmouth tax payers !!

    Report this comment

    greenmanwalking

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • The outer harbour will never ever work in Great Yarmouth, complete waste off money. The money spent there could off been better used in more needy places in the town.

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    ncfcal

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • Unless transport links are first class,the harbour development was bound to fail. The rail spur down to the harbour was pulled up years ago, and the Acle Straight is hopelessly inadequate for any safe container traffic. Yarmouth seems determined to put off holidaymakers with restrictive parking, the wrecking of the promenade with ghastly expensive "improvement schemes" and an inability to tackle the serious social problems that plague a resort with high unemployment. To attract industry transport links must be improved or things will continue to deteriorate.

    Report this comment

    Harry Rabinowitz

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • and to think the acle straight could have been duelled with that money...! Maybe nobody wants to use the harbour because it is unsafe due to being wide open to the easterly gales. Lets hope the pointless wind farms don't get cancelled, then it will be a white elephant.

    Report this comment

    happy

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

  • Next Job is to get the Swell sorted out!!!

    Report this comment

    Caister Boatyard

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

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