The Port of Felixstowe held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the formal commencement of the Felixstowe South Reconfiguration project.
Performed by John Meredith, Group Managing Director of Hutchison Port Holdings, the ceremony was attended by a range of port customers and local dignitaries, as well as representatives of Costain, the contractors for the project.
Costain was appointed in May to construct what will be the UK’s first new deep water container capacity when it comes on stream in 2010. Work to date has concentrated on the demolition of a number of old buildings and warehouses. Dug by hand in 1882, the Dock Basin is the oldest part of the Port of Felixstowe and handled its first import in 1886.
John Meredith commented: “The expansion of the Port of Felixstowe is of great strategic importance in the European market and Hutchison Port Holdings fully supports this development which is critical to secure early deep water capacity for the UK market.”
Chris Lewis, Chief Executive Officer of Hutchison Ports UK Limited, which owns the Port of Felixstowe, added:
“This is a significant day for the Port of Felixstowe and marks the beginning of a new era in our development. Whilst we are already able to accommodate the largest vessels on the market, the Felixstowe South project will enable us to handle more vessels simultaneously, resulting in even better facilities for our customers and securing our position as the UK’s number one port.”
When fully operational, the Felixstowe South development will create more than 600 direct jobs, with an additional 860 in associated industries. The Port of Felixstowe, already one of the largest employers in the UK’s Eastern region, is a major driver of the local economy and contributes some £100 million to it each year in wages alone. The first phase of the redevelopment is scheduled to open in April 2010, with the second phase expected to be operational by 2014.