Members at the February meeting in the Clydeport Offices, Glasgow
© John G. Fender 2011
Mr. Bill Burns, Managing Director, Hunterston Container Terminal. addressed the Scottish Region meeting in Glasgow on 15 February 2005 on the development of the Hunterston Container Terminal by Clydeport. Mr. Burns began by outlining the background to the development and of the company involved. Clydeport is owned by Peel Holdings Ltd., which also owns the Manchester Ship canal, the Trafford Centre in Manchester, Liverpool's John Lennon Airport amongst other interests.
Clydeport currently handles around 7.5 million tons of cargo annually at the ports of Glasgow, Greenock, Hunterston and Ardrossan and has a growth rate in the order of 10 - 15% per annum. Since 1980 there have only been four years when the growth rate fell to below 6%. The company sees strong growth in the future, but there is a lack of port capacity, particularly for the larger ships that are entering service. Additionally, there are the problems of berth congestion at British and European giving rise to productivity issues and cargo delays. There are also more regulations to comply with and various environmental issues to be addressed.
Customers want access to a sizeable hinterland market with sufficient terminal capacity and growth potential, high terminal productivity and low costs. In the near future some 25% of shipping capacity will be provided by large ships and once developed Hunterston would be at about 7th out of the top 15 European ports. In terms of container use, the UK is one of the largest users in Europe and freight transport in containers shows continued steady growth.
Situated on the west coast of Scotland, on the Firth of Clyde, Hunterston is one of the few true deep water facilities in Europe and the existing bulk deepwater terminal is Britain's leading coal import facility. Clydeport, in conjunction with North Ayrshire Council and Scottish Enterprise, is proposing the development of a major international container terminal on a site adjacent to the existing bulk terminal. This development is capable of providing depths of up to 18 metres, combined with a quay length of 800 metres, with expansion capability of up to 1,200 metres. Hunterston offers relatively low development costs and construction would be cost effective as the material that will be dredged can be used as landfill.
Hunterston has a major advantage in that it is relatively close to road and rail infrastructure. It is located close to the rail network and the existing Hunterston terminal is already linked to the rail network on the Largs - Glasgow line and from this line, there is easy access to the West Coast Main Line. A recent rail study showed that the existing network can cope with the additional paths required by freight trains. There are sufficient clearances available for these trains and although there are some issues with loop lengths on the West Coast Main Line, these can be overcome at minimal cost. The development of the Glasgow Airport Rail Link will also provide additional track capacity for trains.
Hunterston also has a connection to the trunk road network via the recently opened Three Towns Bypass cutting out Ardrossan, Saltcoats and Stevenston although the access road currently is via the village of Seamill. It is envisaged that the dual carriageway could be extended at fairly low cost right into the terminal.
The site is a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) but has been zoned for industrial development since 1971. Studies are being undertaken and the site will be evaluated before work commences and Clydeport is working with Scottish Natural Heritage and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The project has many different aspects that need to be considered, for example, the local ecology, cultural heritage, archaeology and noise amongst many others.
When completed, Hunterston would be a main hub, with Southampton, Manchester and Greenock all acting as feeders. In addition, the container terminal would attract allied industries. It is also located between two major airports, Prestwick and Glasgow. Hunterston would provide logistical support to Scottish Industry and will provide many job opportunities. During a searching question and answer session, Mr. Burns coped with many varied and diverse questions on the proposals and the evening was rounded off by a buffet kindly provided by Clydeport.
The Scottish Region would like to express its thanks to Mr. Burns for addressing the meeting and to Clydeport both for hosting the meeting and for its generous hospitality afterwards.
Report by John Fender.
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