This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Trams to rescue Newport from road route clanger? 30 Newport,

Tramcars could be the rather unlikely saviour for Associated British Ports’ threatened port of Newport. The Welsh Government has for some time been pursuing a plan to build a duplicate motorway to the M4, currently the main road corridor leading from England to South Wales – and in the normal scheme of things, this would be welcomed by the owners and operators of Wales’ largest general cargo port. But unfortunately for ABP its preferred option

(the suitably doom-laden ‘Black Route’) would cut straight across its operational area, effectively rendering large areas unusable for commercial cargo. However,

there are signs

that the Government is having second thoughts about the new motorway. The Welsh Government has now announced a £600 million scheme to build a tram, rail and bus-based ‘metro’ network for South Wales. This might pull enough car commuter traffic,

especially the short-

distance stuff that causes the most congestion, off the M4 to render the new motorway unnecessary. Annabel John, who is heading

up the lobbying campaign mounted by ABP says that other changes may also lead to a shelving of the project. There are signs that traffic growth on the M4 is levelling off; the transport minister responsible for the motorway scheme, Edwina Hart, is standing down at the coming elections; and there is a growing public realisation of the effect on the local economy. ABP Newport supports around 3,000 local jobs and pumps £168 million into the Welsh economy. “There are certainly mixed

feelings about the plan,” adds ABP South Wales assistant commercial manager, Elizabeth Nash, putting it mildly. “It would bisect the North and South docks and be slap-bang in the middle of the operational area.” Under the original proposals,

the bridge would have only been 25 metres high and, according

gradients. And even the higher bridge would not clear ABP’s mobile harbour cranes which need to be moved around the dock estate.

ABP has proposed an

to a study ABP carried out some time ago, would prevent 58% of the ships currently using the port accessing their berths. With the general trend towards bigger and taller ships, especially with new international requirements for more spacious vessel crew accommodation, there is every reason to suspect that the

proportion of potentially

excluded ships has increased since that study was carried out, and will continue to do so in future. Elizabeth Nash

adds: “The

quayside in the North Dock is very high quality, and you wouldn’t want to lose an asset like that.” The road construction project would also cause massive disruption to the port while it was going on. It has been suggested that the

height of the new motorway bridge could be increased, though whether that could be now actually be achieved is a moot point. The motorway scheme has been modified to include a junction with local roads at ground level and the higher bridge would require impossibly steep

ABP invests for the future

ABP Newport is continuing to invest where it can, despite the planning blight imposed by the motorway scheme. A fiſth mobile harbour crane has been ordered and it is also rebuilding the port’s Atlantic Shed to increase undercover warehousing in a £2.7 million investment. “Steel was one of the fastest

growth areas in the last 12 months, increasing by around 10%” says Elizabeth Nash. Large amounts have been coming in from the Far East and Italy for the UK car industry, as well as long steel for construction. “We’re also seeing an increase in export steel out of South Wales.” Tata operates a major mill at Port Talbot and a finishing line in Llanwern, and a lot of this material is heading for Europe or the US, oſten in ships of 25-30,000 tonnes; Newport is the only general purpose cargo port that can handle vessels of this size. In fact steel has been growing

so much that ABP has been putting volumes through the currently

underused box

terminal at Newport and there are frequently four or five ships in port simultaneously. Agribulks are the other major

deepsea traffic in Newport, imported in larger ships and much of it processed on the dockside before being re-exported in small

coaster vessels. There are also four timber

importers in the North Dock, including BBH, the country’s leading importer of telegraph poles, which are treated on the dockside before despatch to customers (BT being the largest) and other companies turning raw timber into roof trusses and similar. BBH also imports wooden railway sleepers. There has though been a

decline in imported coal volume, thanks to changes in government electricity generation policy, but that might in time be outweighed by an increase in biomass business, says Elizabeth Nash. There are two power stations in the region - Aberthaw and Uskmouth – that could potentially make the switch from coal to biomass (there were at the time of writing reports that the latter was indeed going to do so) and Newport might well convert its coal terminal to handle the alternative fuel too. Biomass terminals are very different beasts to coal facilities though; biomass has to be stored under cover and it is also bulkier than coal. At ABP Cardiff, builders

merchant Travis Perkins has been named as a tenant of the port’s new dockside distribution centre, with ABP investing £5 million in the facility. It will serve all Travis

Perkins’ local distribution centres in South Wales. Cardiff port still has pockets

of unused or underutilised land, and ABP is encouraging manufacturing and distribution companies to set up shop on the port estate; the business does not necessarily have to have a maritime shipping element. It’s the type of situation that might well appeal to smaller manufacturers, for example firms that process steel, says Elizabeth Nash, who points out that there are already firms carrying out this type of work on Cardiff docks. Other possible tenants could be supermarket on online retailer distribution centres. “Land space on the quaysides at Cardiff is full, but we have got space available for large terminals,” she says. Cardiff is also the terminal for Wales’ only regular container

route, the Cardiff Container Lines service to Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland. This operates two or three times a week with an ABP-chartered ship and is doing well, considering the sharp falls

in container rates, which

has however encouraged some shippers, for example plywood traders, to switch away from bulk shipping. Peat is the main import from Ireland, ensuring a balanced traffic flow.

ABP Barry is small in maritime

terms, but it is the nearest port to the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station

construction project

in Somerset and could well be supplying material for the jetties that will be built as part of the scheme. Barry is also the site of a 4.5 megawatt solar farm that will supply both the port’s own needs and ‘export’ power to the National Grid (at least on those days that the

alternative road route that would clip the north end of the dock area which, while still somewhat disruptive, would allow Newport to go on functioning as a commercial operation. Some timber traffic would have to be relocated, but that is much easier to deal with than agribulks (and could even benefit from being stored out of the rain under the motorway bridge). However, this scheme would fit in less well with the proposed junction that has been added to the plan and a landfill site would need dealing with. There is also an underutilised

high-quality trunk road via Llanwern, which could handle some of the traffic growth; at present, many local motorists seem to be unaware of its existence.

Welsh climate allows). It is also the location of the

ABP-owned intermodal rail terminal. This mainly serves the Dow Corning chemical works, with four trains a week from Southampton and Tilbury bringing in silica, which is used in a range of consumer products such as shampoos. Other liquid bulks come in by ship to Barry. The DB Schenker-operated trains are also available for third party traffic. Moving further west, Port

Talbot is the largest port in the ABP South Wales area and one of only three in the UK capable of handling Capesize vessels of up to 175,000 tonnes. Maximum vessel draſt available is 16.8 metres. Mainly, Port Talbot serves the

Tata steel works, bringing in raw materials but ABP has ambitions to develop the north side of the jetty for other traffic. Potential customers could include a new biomass power plant in Margam, for which Stobart has recently won the supply contract. “We’d love to build a capsize biomass plant

Issue 5 2015 - Freight Business Journal

///WALES The land take of the road

scheme, estimated at around 40 acres, would also seriously hamper prospects for


growth at Newport, currently Wales’ busiest general cargo port and a vital outlet, not just for Wales, but England too. Cardiff, the nearest alternative in the ABP estate, cannot take as large ships as Newport because of lock constraints. Many of Newport’s customers are in the English Midlands and it is likely that the traffic would divert to an English port. The planning blight is

meanwhile hampering future investment in ABP Newport, says Elizabeth Nash. “For example, we have seen a big increase in agribulk traffic and we have got new sheds out

for tender, but

there is always the risk that we will have to take them down and relocate them. “We’re not anti the road scheme

as such,” insists Elizabeth Nash, “but we don’t want it to close down our port.”

there. We estimate that it would cost £27 million to transform it into a general cargo port,” Elizabeth Nash explains. Fittingly, the aggregate by-

product from the Tata steelworks is going into another big project on ABP’s patch, the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon. This mammoth project, which if it goes ahead will start next year, will see construction of a 12km sea wall with electricity generating turbines built into the foundations, taking advantage of the Bristol Channel’s 5-6 metre tidal range, the second largest in the world. “It does impact our approach

channel for shipping, but ABP is supportive if the project. As with the road scheme in Newport, we don’t want to be unnecessarily obstructive.” Coal is still being exported from Swansea, and this

is not

such a dead-end activity as might be supposed. The South Wales product is very high quality and is used for blending with cheaper products from the rest of the world.

Tonnage at ABP South Wales Ports in 2014: Newport - 1,853,000 Cardiff – 1,670,000 Barry – 405,000 Swansea – 527,000 Port Talbot – 9,476,000

Cardiff Container Line – 149,164 tonnes

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40