Thursday, December 3, 2015

Battle for Deep Water Container Port Status Takes Another Turn as Logistics Park Gets Go Ahead

Fight is On to Gather Up UK Trade
Shipping News Feature
UK – The battle for primacy amongst Britain’s deep water container ports saw another significant development this week when the first phase of a 1.4 million square foot logistics park at the Port of Felixstowe received planning permission. A port which got the jump on others when containerisation swept the industry in the 1960’s and ‘70’s to develop into the country’s largest cargo facility with a combination of a low local wage scale in an area then crying out for employment, is now in a fight to maintain its status in the face of growing opposition from the likes of Southampton, and in particular DP World’s London Gateway.

Whilst the Thames port is developing its own logistics park and claiming geographical superiority due to the proximity of the UK’s largest market, Felixstowe has put together some impressive plans of its own. The initial Logistics Park Masterplan contains provision for four separate units ranging in size upwards from 106,000 square feet to 360,000 square feet and it is these which have been approved as part of Phase 1 which will provide nearly 1 million square feet of storage space in total. Phase 1 will occupy 51 acres of the total 68 acre site with the remainder being built as part of Phase 2.

The planning permission was granted a month after the completion of the extension to Berth 9 at the port and the opening of a £4 million expansion of its examination facilities for foodstuffs. This extension allows two of the world’s largest container ships to be worked simultaneously. In total, Felixstowe has nine container berths and currently handles nearly 45% of all UK container traffic. Commenting on the development, Mark Seaman, Finance Director at the port, said:

“The receipt of planning permission is a significant step towards the delivery of this latest major development at the port. There has already been significant interest from potential occupiers and the final design of each of the warehouses will be agreed with individual tenants to meet their specific requirements.

“The Port of Felixstowe Logistics Park is a unique proposition. Located within the port’s perimeter it offers tenants the benefit of a site in the UK’s largest container port, adjacent to the terminal at which the world’s largest and most efficient container ships call.”

Whilst port managers HPH insist that the new logistics park ‘will benefit from the same excellent road and rail connections developed to serve Felixstowe’ there have of course always been complaints that the A14 is ill suited to the volume of traffic it is expected to handle, and factors such as an accident on the Orwell Bridge can cause serious delays. Currently road haulage services at the port are rated as the best ever in terms of equipment available according to a leading freight forwarder, doubtless due to a falling off of tonnage, however rail services are generally still efficient, if a day or two slower than road.

Photo: An artist’s impression of the new logistics park.