Thursday, April 28, 2011

Belfast to Invest 92m Pounds on Harbour Developments

Expansion Planned Into Renewable Energy Support
Shipping News Feature

N.IRELAND – Belfast Harbour has published its new Corporate Plan for 2011-2013, detailing plans to invest £92m in projects to improve Belfast’s Port and Harbour Estate. The single largest investment is a £40m proposal to develop a logistics terminal to support Danish-based DONG Energy’s offshore wind farm operations in the Irish Sea in order to boost the city’s ‘green economy’.

An additional £25m has also been earmarked for other commercial projects while £19m has been set aside for port maintenance schemes such as the purchase of new quayside cranes and a further £8m has been committed to ongoing regeneration of the harbour estate.

The three-year plan is an important development for Belfast Harbour, which handles 60% of Northern Ireland's imports and exports and supports 31% of the country’s GDP, as it acknowledges that continuing economic uncertainty means that tonnages through the Port of Belfast are only likely to grow marginally for the near future, but that significant opportunities exist by diversifying into sectors such as renewable energy.

Looking beyond 2013, however, the Harbour still expects significant long-term growth in traffic which will necessitate the reclamation of 120 acres from Belfast Lough for new handling and logistic facilities.

Speaking on the new plan Joe O’Neill, the Harbour’s Commercial Director said that:

“Although the economy is still operating within a subdued climate, the port industry remains highly competitive. Investments by Belfast Harbour have enabled it to extend its natural hinterland and offer a wider range of services to customers from right across the island of Ireland, but we need to look to long-term investments to retain that position.

“The recent announcement by Dublin Port that it hopes to double its capacity by 2030 through the reclamation of up to 100 acres, and that it, like Belfast, is trying to attract a major wind turbine manufacturer, is a reminder that Belfast Harbour needs to continuously review and enhance its services to remain competitive. Our 2011-2013 Corporate Plan sets the framework for that process.”