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Port of Sheerness expansion plans could create 1,250 …

00:05 31 October 2014 Maria Chiorando 1 Rail freight link part of 20 year master plan Plans to build a rail freight link between the Port of Sheerness and Liverpool could create 1, 250 new jobs and gross added value (GVA) of 156million by 2034, according to a master plan by operators Peel Ports. Peel Ports is a port operating group, who own and operate sites in Liverpool, Manchester, Medway, Glasgow and Belfast, as well as Sheerness. Their master plan sets out the physical improvements needed at the Port over the next 20 years, as well as detailing how these improvements would result in increased socio-economic benefits for the region, and they will be inviting the public to a series of consultation events in November, to discuss the long-term expansion plans.

Sheerness is already a significant commercial port for the South East of the UK, handling around 1.3million tonnes of cargo every year, with industry forecasts suggesting that this figure could increase by as much as 130% over the next 20 years, enabling the Port to handle 3.1million tonnes of cargo a year. The port currently supports 660 jobs across a range of sectors including marine and waterside operations, cargo handling, business management and administration. The rail freight link, which would connect Sheerness and the Port of Liverpool, would be for the transportation of new motor vehicles for export and import.

The consultations will take place over the next six weeks, and Peel Ports will ask the public for their views on five options for growth. The Plan identifies the amount of land needed to accommodate the port s growth and explains how investment in new facilities will serve the growing steel, forest products and automotive sectors and allow for the upgrade of the port s existing infrastructure. Peel Ports are also continuing to explore opportunities within the renewable energy sector.

Miles Hearn, port director of the Port of Sheerness, said: The production of the master plan is important, as it is part of our strategic commitment to develop and grow the Port of Sheerness over the next 20 years. It reflects Peel Ports long-term ambition to remain a key employer and driver for sustainable growth in the Swale region. That is why we want to involve the public in shaping these plans.

Public consultation events are an opportunity to engage with the local community and answer any questions they may have about the master plan. It is also a chance to hear their feedback and we welcome any contributions to the future of the Port of Sheerness. MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, Gordon Henderson, addded: I am extremely pleased to see Peel Ports future strategy for Sheerness and I welcome their decision to share the ideas with local residents and other stakeholders.

Peel Ports have invested heavily in their automotive business and other activities and sustained employment at the port.

I am glad they are still looking to engage with the renewable energy sector and I urge local residents and business people to get along to their exhibitions and have their say.

Members of the public are invited to attend any of the consultation events below and more information on these can be found at www.peelports.com/sheerness-master-plan – 13th November, 9:30am-1:00PM Sheppey Gateway 38-42 High Street, Sheerness, Kent ME12 1NL – 14th November 9:30AM-1:00PM Eastchurch Village Hall, Warden Road, Eastchurch, Sheppey, ME12 4EJ – 14th November 3:30PM-7:30PM Sheppey Gateway 38-42 High Street, Sheerness, Kent ME12 1NL – 15th November 9:30AM-1:00PM Sheppey Gateway 38-42 High Street, Sheerness, Kent ME12 1NL References ^ Maria Chiorando (www.kentnews.co.uk)

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