Belfast Harbour yesterday revealed details of a £40m investment programme to upgrade its container terminal at Victoria Terminal 3 (VT3) which connects Northern Ireland’s businesses to global markets through the European hub ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp.
Belfast Harbour recently launched its 2035 Strategic Outlook with plans to be the ‘Best Regional Port in the World’ and a ‘Smart Port’ by investing in new technology and enhancing capacity. The first investment announcement on the back of this for VT3 will improve productivity and help customers grow and target new trade opportunities.
The three-year investment programme will see Belfast Harbour invest £28m in ten new cranes and undertake major civil works delivered by local contractor F.P. McCann to reconfigure the 27-acre terminal to increase terminal capacity by around 30% and improve terminal efficiency.
The terminal is operated by Belfast Harbour’s partners, Irish Continental Group (ICG), and currently handles more than 250 sailings annually between Belfast and key Northern European container ports such as Rotterdam, Antwerp and Le Havre, providing local importers and exporters with access to overseas markets.
Michael Robinson, Belfast Harbour’s Port Director, said: “This investment programme will future-proof the terminal for a generation as well as utilise the most modern technology making Belfast Harbour one of the world leaders through the implementation of Rubber Tyre Gantry remote control and stack automation technology. Long-term, we anticipate that the container market will continue to grow and surpass pre-recession levels and as a port we need to be ready to handle these volumes.”
The investment in new larger state-of-the-art cranes and a new terminal layout, futureproofs the terminal capacity and provides the ability to handle larger ships. Two Ship to Shore (STS) cranes have been purchased from Liebherr Cranes, the first of which will be delivered in Q1 2020.
The investment will also provide eight new Kalmar Rubber Tyre Gantry (RTG) cranes, which are faster and more versatile than the current yard cranes and can be operated remotely, further increasing productivity. The first five RTGs will be delivered in November 2019 with the first two RTGs commissioned and ready for use in early Q1 2020.
Mr. Robinson added: “This is amongst the largest investment projects that Belfast Harbour has ever undertaken and will help create one of the most modern container handling terminals of its size in Europe.
“There is widespread recognition in industry and government that Northern Ireland’s future economic growth will rely on increasing exports and this investment puts us in a strong position to accommodate export growth by local companies over the long term.”
Declan Freeman, Managing Director, ICG Container and Terminal Division, said: “We wholeheartedly welcome Belfast Harbour’s commitment to make a long-term investment in both infrastructure and equipment to modernise and improve efficiency at the container terminal. This announcement is good for all local exporters who want to access international markets and we are very much looking forward to the arrival of the first new RTGs in November.”
VT3 links Northern Ireland with the international hubs of Rotterdam and Antwerp, bringing products such as food and drink and household goods to Northern Ireland, and providing a route to global markets for local exporters. Last year VT3 handled almost 128,000 containers, a 1.5% increase on the previous year and the highest volume since 2010.
VT3 was opened in 1993 and was pivotal in repositioning Belfast as one of the island’s gateways to international markets.
Source: Belfast Harbour (Additional information about the Port of Belfast at CruiseMapper)