Belfast Harbour has published its new Corporate Plan for 2011-2013, detailing plans to invest £92m in capital projects related to the 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 and boost Belfast’s ‘green economy’.
Tenders for the terminal are expected to be issued this week following confirmation from Planning Service that quay works for the site may proceed under permitted development rights, without the need for an Environmental Impact Assessment.
An additional £25m has been earmarked for other commercial projects while £19m has been set aside for Port maintenance schemes such as the purchase of new quayside cranes. A further £8m has been committed to ongoing regeneration of the Harbour Estate. All of the projects will be fully funded from the Harbour’s own revenue streams.
The three-year plan acknowledges that continuing economic uncertainty means that tonnages through the Port are only likely to grow incrementally for the foreseeable future, but that significant opportunities exist in 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.
Roy Adair, Belfast Harbour’s CEO, said:
“Our vision is to be a world class port offering best-in-class marine and estate facilities, developments which in turn will support and stimulate economic activity throughout Northern Ireland. Investing £92m directly into the local economy will be a significant boost in itself, particularly for the construction sector.
“In recent years the Harbour has invested to establish Belfast as the island’s leading Port for several key trades, including the local agri-sector which has continued to grow despite the global economic climate. The Harbour has also facilitated developments such as Titanic Belfast, cruise ship calls and logistics warehousing.
“Over the next three years the Harbour will continue to pursue similar commercial projects to generate growth and economic opportunities across Northern Ireland, and help maximise the Port’s contribution to the local economy within the limits of its current business powers.”
The Plan also highlights that regeneration projects within the Harbour Estate have created 10m sq ft of new space with a value of £2bn since 1992, and that the Harbour will continue to work with Invest NI to promote the Estate’s potential to overseas investors. Ongoing projects include Titanic Quarter, Sydenham Business Park and City Quays.
Joe O’Neill, the Harbour’s Commercial Director added:
“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.”
With regard to the Harbour’s commercial powers, the Plan noted that the previous Assembly concluded that all of Northern Ireland’s Trust Ports would benefit from enhanced commercial powers, allowing them to progress long-term investment strategies for the benefit of the local economy.