UK: Chancellor Announces Regional Growth Funding for Mersey Dredging
The Chancellor George Osborne is to announce a £35m grant to dredge the approach channel in the Mersey Estuary – creating the opportunity for massive container vessels to enter the river.
The Chancellor will make the announcement during a visit to the Port of Liverpool where he will meet representatives from businesses in the region who stand to benefit from the dredging project, as well as apprentices who are training for jobs in the local maritime industry.
The grant has been awarded to the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company as a contribution towards the cost of dredging the Mersey Estuary at Seaforth. By deepening the approach channel of the Mersey to 16 metres it will allow access for post-Panamax size container ships as well as widening the tidal access window for a range of other river users. As a result the grant will support the creation, expansion and protection of thousands of jobs and businesses dependent on the river.
Chancellor of the Exchequer said: “This project is good news for Merseyside and the North West, but also important to the UK as a whole. As well as creating 5,000 jobs, upgrading Merseyside’s maritime infrastructure demonstrates that this country is open for business, and ready to compete in the global race. This government is working hard to heal the damage inflicted on our economy, and we are making sure we prioritise this kind of long-term investment in the infrastructure of our country.”
Mark Whitworth, Chief Executive of Peel Ports Group – parent company of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company – said: “This is exactly the kind of public sector investment the country needs because it will drive growth in the UK’s private sector by improving infrastructure. The grant will critically support the region’s maritime economy, and it will help Peel Ports expand the Port of Liverpool with our new £300m container terminal Liverpool2.”
Around 5,000 jobs are expected to be created in the region’s maritime community as a direct result of the new Liverpool2 terminal. The Chancellor will announce the start of construction today, and the new terminal is expected to be open for business in 2015.
The maritime sector in the Liverpool City Region employs 28,000 people across 1,700 businesses and contributes £2.6bn to Liverpool City Region’s annual economic output – 15% of the total economic output for the region.
Ian Higby, Chairman of the Mersey Maritime Group and Managing Director of Atlantic Container Line which operates services to North America out of the Port of Liverpool said: “This is a fantastic boost for businesses across the region’s maritime sector. Dredging the estuary is essential for growth in the region’s maritime sector.”
Susan Williams, Chief Executive at Atlantic Gateway said: “The maritime sector has always been central to the Liverpool City Region’s economy and this award will further underpin the growth of hundreds of maritime businesses that use the Mersey in what is an increasingly competitive global market.
“The RGF grant will significantly boost international trade for the region and will drive jobs and growth. Investment in this kind of important infrastructure is crucial to developing international trade routes to the North of England.”
Press Release, May 28, 2013