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9/7/2012 - Transport minister sees new investments underway at Port of Workington

A major investment in the Port of Workington which is doubling the port's capacity to handle containers and providing a key contract to a local firm has been heralded as a key step forward for West Cumbria by the transport minister Mike Penning MP on a visit to the port.

The transport minister visited Workington today (see attached picture) to learn more about how new investment in the port fits in with Cumbria's future economic development and transport aspirations.

Work is now underway to double the container management capacity at the port which will 'future proof' it to allow it to handle all cargos (not just containers). It is a key step in the development of the port into a modern, multi-modal terminal which can transfer cargo between sea and road or rail.

Last month (14 June) Cumbria County Council, which owns the Port of Workington, awarded the £ 2.9m contract to local contractor Thomas Armstong to develop the container handling facilities. The contract, which was awarded after a tendering process, is scheduled to see work completed at the end of September 2012 and will establish a coastal and short sea link for local industry to ship its raw materials and finished products into and out of Cumbria.

Benefits from the contract include:

- £ 12.4m worth of environmental benefits delivered in the first 10 years.
- New jobs being created both directly and indirectly.
- Supporting a cluster of local manufacturing businesses.

The container handling facility and associated improvements to supporting infrastructure is part of a £ 5.7m investment programme for the port which has been funded by Britain's Energy Coast in partnership with Nuclear Management Partners and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

As well as the container handling improvements and extra warehousing, other improvements include a new harbour mobile crane, a reachstacker, tractor units and trailers, IT upgrades, enhanced security and lighting.

The investment is helping to secure the port's future with a flexible and integrated offer in anticipation of being properly geared up to underpin future strategic energy and non-energy related business opportunities such as those identified in the West Cumbria Economic Blueprint, which was launched by Britain's Energy Coast last month.  The improvements are designed to have a 'snowball' effect to help attract other added-value warehousing and distribution facilities to Workington and support local industrial development as well as inward investment.

Shipping Minister Mike Penning MP said:

"From the food on our tables to the knives and forks we use to eat it, almost everything imported into the UK comes through our ports. They are a vital part of this country's infrastructure and Workington is no exception.

"The investment which has been secured here will be a huge benefit to the regional economy. Along with the extra jobs it will help create, it will give the port the potential to support the growth of other local businesses."

Cllr Eddie Martin, Leader of Cumbria County Council and Vice Chairman of the Port of Workington, said:

"This is a good news story for West Cumbria and especially good news that a local contractor, Thomas Armstong, will be playing a vital role in the regeneration of the port through the new container handling facilities. We're working with Britain's Energy Coast to position the port as a key hub for industry in the region. With the prospect of new nuclear build round the corner, it is essential we get the right infrastructure in place for what we hope will be a wave of change and opportunity for Cumbria."

Tom Gilroy, Acting Chief Executive of Britain's Energy Coast, said:

"The Port of Workington is a major economic asset for West Cumbria and will put us in a position to capitalise on nuclear and renewable-related opportunities both at home and overseas. It will also allow our established businesses to export more, and of course import, on a greater scale than before through a port elevated to the global maritime network. The Economic Blueprint is all about investing to ensure West Cumbria is competitive locally and globally and the Port perfectly encapsulates this dual focus."

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