Fifth port proposal for the Humber unveiled for South Bank site

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 11 Oct 2018

A fifth Humber port with potential supercharged free trade zone status is to be put to Government as part of North Lincolnshire’s ambitious emerging economic strategy. 

What would be a development involving hundreds of millions of pounds – building on the Able Marine Energy Park concept that has so far missed the boat in the burgeoning offshore wind industry – it gets top billing in the 10 clear asks to be hand-delivered to Westminster. 

The local authority is eyeing up the potential expansion of the “last remaining piece of land adjacent to deep water” with council leader Rob Waltham MBE outlining how Brexit could redefine the use of the area, and Team Humber Marine Alliance chairman and chief executive, Mark O’Reilly, highlighting increasing demand. 

It was unveiled at North Lincolnshire's Economic Strategy Launch at North Lindsey College, Scunthorpe. 

Speakers who outlined the 10 asks. From left, Peter Thorpe, Mark O'Reilly, Simon Green, Paul Martin, David Clugston and Cllr Rob Waltham MBE.

Setting out the 10 asks envisaged for delivery in the next 20 years, Simon Green, executive director, described how “crucially a fifth port would unlock parcels of land adjacent to deep water access,” with additional plans to support terminals and wharves further up the Humber and on the Trent. 

On the trade zone front, he said: “Whether it is bounded warehouses or a corridor approach along the M62, discussions are ongoing and we are part of that.” 

Having overcome a prolonged legal battle that wound up in the House of Commons, Able Marine Energy Park has subsequently missed out on Orsted and Innogy’s Humber projects, with an element of the furthest inland zone developed for car handling for neighbouring Port of Immingham and Humber Sea Terminal. 

Millions of pounds have already been spent on raising the land level and creating hard standing and some utility provision, but the quay has yet to be brought forward, with wider logistics proposals already on the table too.

Cllr Waltham said: “We have to state our ambition. We have a great asset, which, as well established, has access to deep water, and potential of emerging importance. This is our pitch to government. We will be taking it to the Secretary of State.” 

More than 70 businesses have signed up to support, with the House of Lords visit scheduled for the end of  November.  Able UK’s position on the proposal is not yet clear, with representatives not present, but an obligation to develop was stressed by Cllr Waltham.

Business leaders from companies large and small take in the presentation.

With expansions at Immingham in container and bulk handling, and DFDS adding a further 10 per cent to its operating footprint, Mr O’Reilly underlined the need. “There is a demand for more capacity around the Humber, and you can see that in developments happening now, and that will increase,” he said. “There is a drive to direct future traffic north. Of the 90 per cent of containers landed in southern ports, 60 per cent is destined for the midlands and the north. That is a key focus, it is congesting roads and we have space to grow. Post-Brexit it opens new opportunities, and one of those is free ports, and supercharged free ports, linking ports with enterprise zones, is massively important.

Read more: Hard Brexit's port pressure: Shipping giant DFDS takes on extra land as it prepares for queuing lorries

“It is very interesting and something we need to adopt while we can in this part of the world, and take advantage of the growing economy to get the best out of Brexit. 

“I’m really pleased to see North Lincolnshire Council looking in this direction.” 

Read more: £1m agri-bulk investment at Port of Immingham

Mr O’Reilly has been a strong supporter of AMEP through the process, well aware of the strategic importance. “There are not many spaces in the whole of the UK where there is room for development of port facilities and adjacent land,” he said. “There is a great opportunity whatever the operating need. We have to optimise that the best we can. A lot of areas are envious of that water frontage and space beyond it.” 

Other key points include growing the manufacturing and engineering supply hub, with British Steel’s Heathrow ambition highlighted, so too the support, growth and diversification of the chemical and energy cluster.

Simon Green addresses the event, with the slide showing northern Lincolnshire's strategic location in both energy generation, energy intensive use and food production. 

Improved connectivity on road and rail, with A15 dualling and faster, more regular links to Doncaster, Sheffield and HS2 are seen as vital, as well as having 'oven-ready pump-primed' sites for development.

There is a clear focus on lifelong skills and development and a university campus plan, with ambition to host the National Flood Resilience Centre too, a project devised by University of Hull and Humberside Fire And Rescue. 

There is further work on town centre development and market town regeneration, with recognition of the Lincolnshire Wolds within the boundary as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty also sought.  

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