GOVERNMENT BLOCKS Dibden Bay project

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The Government’s decision not to give approval for Associated British Ports’ (ABP) proposed deep-sea container port at Dibden Bay, Southampton, has been heavily criticised by trade associations.

Colin Beaumont, director general of British International Freight Association (BIFA), says the decision is a “severe blow” and one that will have long-term consequences for UK trade. He says: “Shipping lines are building ever larger and faster ships that the UK will simply not be able to accommodate. It seems that the government has let politics get in the way of common sense.”

The FTA says it “was shocked and disappointed” that Dibden Bay would not get approval. It believes freight traffic will go to Rotterdam and Le Havre instead. A FTA spokesman says the Government must now look to develop the Shell Haven and Harwich ports, although road and rail links will have to be improved considerably.

The Government turned down the proposed development for environmental reasons despite recognising that the UK and industry need extra container port capacity in order to meet future economic demand.

ABP, which is starting a new £100M share repurchase programme to increase the efficiency of its capital structure, will write off substantially of the estimated £45M of capitalised costs associated with the Dibden Terminal approval process. Despite being “disappointed” by the decision, ABP is upbeat about its £400M-plus investment over the next ten years in other developments in its core UK ports business.

Bo Lerenius, ABP group chief executive, says: “We expect to generate growth from the four river terminals we have planned on the Humber, as well as from the regular growth projects we undertake each year in all of our ports.”

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