A new link-span bridge at Heysham Port, built to increase throughput at the Lancashire port, has been officially opened as part of a £10m investment by its owner-operator Peel Ports.
The investment is a direct response to the economic potential facilitated by the Bay Gateway link road that connects Heysham directly with the M6. The port is already a key gateway for Irish Sea trade with numerous daily sailings operated by Seatruck, Stena Line and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. As well as the new link-span, which provides a third berth for freight and passenger traffic, the investment also includes a new port entrance and a pontoon for offshore crew transfer vessels, which is currently under construction and is set to open later this year.
A new terminal operating system supplied by Hogia has also been introduced to digitise the management of freight transport through the terminal, helping to improve operational efficiency.
The investments by Peel Ports have been made within 18 months of the opening of the new £140m link road which bypasses congestion in Lancaster. The 4.8km route cuts the journey time for goods traded between the UK and Ireland by 30 minutes, offering a significant cost saving to cargo owners and hauliers.
Warren Marshall, Group Planning Director of Peel Ports said: “Heysham is vitally important for the local business community and for shippers in the north of the UK. The opening of the new link road last year has opened up a wealth of opportunities for Heysham and this investment in the port will help us to realise the shared vision we have with Lancashire County Council and Lancaster City Council for maximising trade via Heysham. That is good news for cargo owners and all businesses that rely on the movement of goods in the region.”
According to some studies before the road opened, the economic growth forecast could potentially support 250 new jobs in port-related activity and hundreds more in haulage, logistics and distribution. It is estimated that for £1 invested, the link road will earn £4.40 for the local economy.
Attending the official opening on Friday 18 May, David Morris MP said: “I was delighted to officially open the Heysham link-span. This signifies a large investment from Peel Ports and a commitment to the economic growth of my constituency.
“The link road was always going to be a game changer for my area and I am pleased that companies who have had to hold back investment in Morecambe because of poor road connectivity are now able to make that investment. This bridge not only benefits my constituency but benefits the whole North West economy facilitating greater connectivity through Heysham Port.”
Alistair Eagles, CEO of Seatruck and President of Lancaster & District Chamber of Commerce said: “This is an important investment by Peel Ports and is welcomed by Seatruck Ferries and the local business community. The new ramp will provide greater flexibility to port users and improve schedule reliability at a time when we are seeing significant increases in traffic volume. Heysham Port is an important hub for Irish Sea freight trade as operators look to reduce road mileage compared with the traditional transits through Scotland or Wales. Seatruck has invested heavily in a purpose-built fleet for Heysham. With the link road and now this fabulous port investment we are ready to maximise the future opportunity of Heysham Port, which is great news for the local economy.”