VINDICATION: 'EATING HUMBLE PIE'

By Ian Murray, Editor

Southern Daily Echo – 29 September 2006

It’s not often that I feel I may have to eat a slice of humble pie. Editors are seldom wrong, you see. However events this week, though welcome, have left me feeling a little, well, red around the cheeks.

Like many I was distraught when the government's inspector turned down the proposal by ABP to build the massive Dibden Bay container terminal. Sheer madness, I trumpeted. How could Southampton as a city go forward if, as we had been repeatedly informed, the city docks were to be restrained from reacting to changes in world trade. By allowing the care of a few wild fowl to take precedence over the development of the port the government had resigned Southampton to a second rate future.

My stance – much the subject of vitriol from some residents living in substantial upscale homes on the Waterside – was based on the arguments put forward by ABP during the inquiry. There was simply no way the port could develop to cope with the new breed of super container ships if it did not expand at Dibden. The arguments, put forward by objectors, most notably from those lovely homes in Hythe, was that the port could develop very nicely within its existing boundaries.

Oh, how we scoffed at that one. Oh, how it's turned out now to be true.

This week's announcement by ABP that they can after all manage to increase capacity at the port without the need to cover huge swathes of the Waterside in concrete is welcome news. But leaves many of us asking what all the fuss was about two years ago. Admittedly, ABP themselves had stumped up the £50m needed to cover the cost of the inquiry, proof if it was needed that they certainly believed then that Dibden was the best option. But the whole saga does leave those who wrung their hands in despair at the inspector's verdict looking a little eggy-faced.

I can't actually hear the residents of Hythe crowing, but that's probably due to all the noise from those bloomin' geese ...