A dynamic multipurpose port complex, to include Ro/Ro, containers and offshore support is being created within a new outer harbour under construction at the port of Great Yarmouth. The £50 million project will not only serve a wide hinterland but also play a major role in the revitalisation of a whole region, resulting in the project attracting £18m of public funding. And to reflect the port’s intended broader appeal, it is now operating under the title of EastPort UK.
Driving the project forward is the Great Yarmouth Port Company Limited, which took over the operation of Great Yarmouth Port in May 2007 when the existing port business was transferred to it. Great Yarmouth Port Company Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of International Port Holdings Limited, a portfolio company of Global Infrastructure Partners.
The venture has attracted some comments that the port’s location is a bit ‘out on a limb’ but Eddie Freeman, CEO of EastPort UK asserts the claim is unjustified. He believes knowledgeable opinion now accepts that the port is positioned competitively, particularly when aligned to Continental Europe. Moreover, the overland route to the Midlands is comparable with competing ports to the extent that hauliers are reflecting this in their pricing.
An important part of the development is the construction of a container terminal capable of accommodating short and mid sea vessels up to 10m draught. This is a joint venture between PSA-HNN 60% and International Port Holdings Limited 40% with operations scheduled to commence in the first quarter of 2009. Construction work commenced June 2007 and will have a 400m quay supported by ship to shore gantry cranes. Capacity will initially be in the order of 250 T.E.U.’s per annum.
“The container terminal will have significant scope” said Freeman, “being able to accommodate both the short and mid sea sectors in addition to opportunities further afield. We want to maximise on our ability to exploit excellent nautical accessibility, reliable service levels and freedom from congestion. And PSA, who are a global player, will bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the port”.
With its close proximity to mainland Europe being particularly advantageous when looking for rapid transit and high vessel utilisation, EastPort UK is also looking to attract other activities to the new intermodal hub, such as Ro/Ro, Ropax and Freight.
Offshore support for the gas and oil rigs in the Southern part of the North Sea will also feature strongly. Great Yarmouth is already England’s busiest port in this sector and as investment in renewables grows, particularly the huge wind farm projects, the port will be well placed to accommodate the support and construction elements of the industry, including the vast array of specialised equipment it deploys.