Tuesday, 15 April 2014

BRIDGE builds on cross-Channel relations

With freight traffic between Dover and Calais expected to rise as much as 40 per cent by 2030, the importance of strengthening this cross-Channel trade route is increasingly the focus of collaboration and major investment. 

Seeking to protect the long-term resilience of what is described as a ‘European motorway of the sea’, the BRIDGE (Building the Resilience of International and Dependent Gateways in Europe) Project brings together the Port of Dover and Port of Calais, pictured. 

The project, which aims to ensure the two ports are part of European efforts to create a fully integrated freight corridor combining road, rail and maritime transport and linking the UK with Northern France, Benelux and North-East Spain, was recently unveiled at a joint event held in the French port. 

Calais Port 2015 plans aim to increase capacity through the development of a new harbor and cross-Channel terminal with a further three cross-Channel berths and one Ro-Ro berth, along with 80 hectares of new platforms. 

To handle the increased traffic, Calais, like Dover, is reorganising cross-Channel traffic flows and road networks in and around the port. Major investment under the Calais 2015 banner also includes the development of a rail motorway terminal linking the port in Nord-Pas-de-Calais with Perpignan in the south of France, to enable the transhipment of trailers between rail, road and ferry. 

Currently the busiest roll-on roll-off (Ro-Ro) ferry terminal in Europe, Port of Dover handles 2.2 million freight vehicles, of which 80 per cent travel to Calais. The Kent port also welcomes 13 million passengers every year. 

At Port of Dover, three berths are being enhanced with two piers recently extended. To improve short-term operational performance and safety, a further three major berths will be refurbished by 2015.

Minister gives greater commercial powers 

Last week the Port of Dover received a major vote of confidence from Shipping and Ports Minister Stephen Hammond after he set out a plan for its future. 

The proposals, which see Port of Dover remain a Trust Board, are aimed at strengthening community involvement, boosting commercial development and unlocking the potential for regeneration. 

The biggest change for Dover Harbour Board, which manages the port, is the minister’s decision to give it greater financial powers, providing the flexibility to enter joint ventures and borrow against its assets. This will allow the board to raise substantial funds to invest in the future. 

As a result, the board’s plans to revitalise the Western Docks – creating an estimated 600 jobs and safeguarding a further 140 – have been given ministerial backing.

The agreed plan for the way forward will also give greater community involvement in the strategic leadership of the port, with the appointment of community non-executive directors being added to the board.

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