Southern Daily Echo – 27 September 2006
News today that Associated British Ports is to expand the capacity of Southampton Container Terminal to almost double its present size will have heads shaking throughout the city – and beyond.
The multi-million-pound investment in the port is very welcome. Indeed, it is a relief to learn that Southampton will retain its place as Britain's premier port. However, the announcement will open old wounds, particularly concerning Dibden Bay.
Barely two years ago ABP was arguing that development of Dibden Bay was essential if the port was to survive and prosper. Without a massive new port development on land across the water, the port of Southampton would become second class.
As everyone knows that argument was lost and the Dibden Bay development was consigned to history, at least for now. There was much champagne popping among conservationists and those residents who live in luxury homes on the Hythe waterside.
In Southampton there was much shaking of heads.
Now it appears arguments put forward by opponents to the Dibden scheme have been justified. ABP can indeed build its new super dock facilities capable to taking the largest of container ships along what is already dock development on the city side of Southampton Water.
To be fair ABP admits is has learnt much from its recent developments on Humberside, but the news today makes the £50m Dibden inquiry, paid for by the company, appear somewhat pointless. Dibden is now officially kicked into the long grass, says the company. But there is a warning for the residents of the Waterside. ABP says it remains convinced Dibden Bay will be developed one day.