Harbour future set fair

STEPHEN PULLINGER Encouraging early signals from the freight industry suggest Yarmouth's £50m outer harbour will be able to compete successfully with Felixstowe and Harwich - even ahead of possible road improvements.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

Encouraging early signals from the freight industry suggest Yarmouth's £50m outer harbour will be able to compete successfully with Felixstowe and Harwich - even ahead of possible road improvements.

Eddie Freeman, chief executive of Great Yarmouth Port Company (GYPC), said discussions with "the people on the ground who do the

sticky stuff - the freight forwarders and truckers" - had bolstered his optimism.

He said the argument levelled by industry critics that Yarmouth was in the middle of nowhere simply did not stack up - for all but one short stretch the road to the Midlands was dual- carriageway and only a maximum of 20km longer than routes from the Haven ports.

On top of that, the sea crossing from the Netherlands into Yarmouth was shorter, and hauliers had told him that delays of one to six hours were commonplace out of Felixstowe.

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He said it was inevitable the road network would expand with the success of the port but, in the meantime, it was important that in its quest for improved infrastructure Yarmouth did not "shoot itself in the foot" by sending a negative message to potential port users.

The decision of the company to adopt the trading name of East Port UK made a strong statement of its ambition to serve a wide hinterland.

Mr Freeman, whose successful track record includes developing the Humber Sea Terminal, said Yarmouth port's parent company, International Port Holdings, had taken a "much more holistic approach to what we can do as a port, striving to engineer as complete an offer as we can".

He said it had just so happened that the deal for a container terminal had been struck first. The ro-ro market was still a very live contender and it was still the intention to develop it "as fast as our legs will carry us".

However, Mr Freeman said ferry route options to the continent were still completely open, dismissing the long-mooted pairing with Ijmuiden, in the Netherlands, as "a notional link".

He said the demand for offshore support would also provide business for the outer harbour, with supply ships becoming bigger all the time.

Three weeks after building work was formally launched at a champagne reception on South Denes, contractors are pressing ahead with the construction of the first of two breakwaters, 1.2km apart, which will enclose a 10m deep basin able to accommodate the largest ro-ro

vessels afloat and the type of container ships serving the North Sea.

It is planned that a 400m container berth served by two gantry cranes will be a reality within 15 months.

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