New Forest East




Lymington Times – 1 August 2009

Consultation launched as document suggests new port bid in 2011

The company aiming to develop Dibden Bay into a massive container terminal has been compared by a New Forest MP to a "great white shark". Julian Lewis spoke out in the House of Commons after Associated British Ports’ draft master plan for its Southampton operations confirmed it wanted to build on the internationally protected mudflats, as reported in last week’s Lymington Times.

Its £500m plans were thrown out by the government in 2004 after a year-long public inquiry to the delight of conservationists, and residents who feared local roads being swamped with lorries.

A new bid is expected in two years’ time and, according to Dr Lewis, Southampton’s port director, Doug Morrison, has said:

"How do we leave a legacy for future generations? The answer has to be Dibden Bay. Just as you thought you were safe to put your toe back in the water, we are back again. And we are never going to go away."

Dr Lewis commented:

"That seems rather reminiscent of the film 'Jaws'; at the outset people are being gobbled up by a great white shark, but we should remember what happens to the shark at the end of the process".

The master plan sets out ABP’s strategy for the port until 2030 and this week went out for consultation lasting until 13 November in time for a final version to be published by the end of the year. It wants to be ready for when its facilities in the city run out of space in 2020 with a projected rise in tonnage of nearly 50%. A "lead in" of up to nine years would be needed before a Dibden Bay terminal was operational – making 2011 the likely application year.

The current docks cover 755 acres compared to the 800 acres ABP owns ad Dibden Bay. The plan described any development as a "step change expansion" but said no "conceptual design work" had been done recently.

Launching the draft plan, Mr Morrison said:

"The port of Southampton is an integral part of the city of Southampton and it is a vital component of the local and national economy so it is appropriate to set out our proposals for the future."

And he added:

"The important thing to remember is that the master plan is not a planning application."

A public exhibition of ABP’s master plan will be held at Hythe and Dibden Parish Council’s offices at The Grove, St John’s Street on 15 September between 10 am and 8 pm. The full consultation document is available at local libraries and via ABP Southampton’s website