Port masterplan will bring £800 million to UK economy and support thousands of new jobs

Tens of millions of pounds' of investment in Portsmouth International Port have been outlined in its new 20-year masterplan, launched today.

Mike Sellers, director of the Portsmouth City Council-owned port, said the £92m plan would 'secure its future' and help it adapt to 'changing demands' in the industry and would bring economic benefits worth more than £800m to the country and create thousands of jobs.

Much of the work has already started, including plans for a new 400-lorry 'satellite site' at an undisclosed out-of-city location 'within six miles' of the port. It will be used as storage for the growing amount of unaccompanied freight and also act as a staging post for drivers.

‘These are the sorts of trends we need to be able to cater for,’ city council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said. ‘If we can't then the port won’t survive. Simply relying on the fruit trade is not enough.’

The masterplan, sets out a range of short, medium, and long-term priorities ranging from new 'smart' booking systems to dredging and berth extensions to cater for larger passenger ships.

The most immediate projects are the ongoing installation of solar panels and the £11m terminal extension which is set to be completed in the coming months.

On top of this, a new overhead walkway linking the terminal to cruise berths is also proposed.

Longer term, plans have also been unveiled for water deepening and the construction of two 300-metre berths which will be capable of handling 80 per cent of ships calling into the UK.

‘If you don't continue to invest in the port then you lose a very valuable asset for the city,' Cllr Vernon-Jackson added. ‘It won’t survive if we don't continue to modernise and move forward.

‘We have real ambitions for what we want the port to be - not least becoming the first in the country to become carbon neutral - and that requires long-term planning and investment.’

Both climate targets set for the port - for its operations to be carbon net zero in 2030 and to be zero-emission in 2050 - are featured in the masterplan, with measures to expand the provision of shore power for ships alongside and facilities to cater for hybrid and fully-electric vessels in the future.

As part of this work, there are also proposals to overhaul the layout of the port, including access points at Rudmore Square and Whale Island Way, and to automate check-in processes to reduce congestion.

Mr Sellers said the masterplan also showed how space on the ‘constrained’ site will be used to meet evolving demands in the industry which have seen increasing numbers of unaccompanied cargo travel through it in recent years.

'This is a once-in-a-generation change which comes after a perfect storm of Brexit and the pandemic,' he said. 'We're seeing that shift right now and it's up to us to be able to meet that demand - otherwise the business will just go somewhere else.'

He said the new satellite site, which will provide shower and canteen facilities for drivers, coupled with the demolition of two 'underused' warehouses would help free up space for containers and lorry trailers.

Mr Sellers added: 'We will see a wider range of cargo and we will have to find space to accommodate it.'

Source: Portsmouth News