New bridge and road links hold key to Port of Workington expansion
Last updated at 19:36, Thursday, 12 July 2012
The Port of Workington could be in line for a multimillion-pound expansion and a new bridge link across the River Derwent.
Discussions are also under way about a possible expansion on to 60 acres of Allerdale council land north of the port, to the site used by a temporary Tesco store after the 2009 floods.
That could include a second port road joining the A596 opposite Dunmail Park.
Improvements to the port’s transport links are being considered as part of the West Cumbria Economic Blueprint.
The port is halfway through a 10-year, £11 million development plan funded by Cumbria County Council, the Northwest Regional Development Agency and Allerdale council.
But Colin Sharpe, port business development manager, yesterday said a port expansion and better transport links would be needed within two years to ensure it can support major projects such as West Cumbria’s planned new nuclear power station.
A separate £2.9 million project has also started to double its container handling facilities, funded by Britain’s Energy Coast, Nuclear Management Partners and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
But the port is running out of land to develop within its boundaries. It only has access by one road over a railway bridge.
Mr Sharpe said it would be a great asset to have a bridge link to the south side of the river, perhaps in place of the disused rail link which was lost after the 2009 floods.
It could link to a southern relief road mooted for Workington, taking traffic through Derwent Howe and the port to the A596 towards Carlisle.
There could also be scope, said Mr Sharpe, for specialist facilities along the breakwater near the harbour entrance.
Mr Sharpe said: “To match the potential development in West Cumbria it’s got to be within a two-year timeframe.”
He expected feedback from Britain’s Energy Coast next month about whether one or both transport link proposals would be taken forward under the blueprint.
Costs and funding have not yet been detailed but Mr Sharpe said investment from private sector business would be key to future growth projects.
The port already has a £3.3m shortfall in its 10-year plan funding because of the demise of the NWDA and is looking at ways to meet that from other sources.
In the five years since that plan started the port has seen its annual turnover nearly double from £1 million.
Mr Sharpe said expansion to serve the nuclear industry would make a significant contribution to turnover and profit.
Transport minister Mike Penning visited the port on Monday to see the latest developments, which will see the port’s container handling capacity increase to about 14,000 containers.
He said the Government aimed to utilise smaller ports to take pressure off the roads.
First published at 19:25, Thursday, 12 July 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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