Work is poised to start on a £25m extension at the Port of Tyne – the biggest investment made by the company in five years.
Southbay Civil Engineering Ltd have been appointed as main contractor on the huge project which gets underway this month to extend the Riverside Quay at the port’s deep-sea facility at South Shields.
The main contract covers 300m of quay work and includes a 125m quay extension, an upgrade of 118m of existing quay and 90m of quay wall renewal at the former McNulty site.
The development has been put into action to support the growth in cargo volumes being handled by the Port, following record-breaking results published last year.
The buoyant port posted record-breaking cargo volumes of 8.1m tonnes for 2013, when turnover rose 16% to £73m compared to 2012, and this growth includes the relatively-new wood pellet imports used by power stations as they convert from coal to renewable fuels.
Andrew Moffat, Port of Tyne chief executive officer, crowned the North East Business Executive of the Year last November, said: “On the back of growth in volumes over the past few years we are investing in new infrastructure to make sure the port is able to meet the needs of both our existing and our future customers.
“This is the biggest single investment we have made since we built Europe’s first purpose-built wood pellet facilities back in 2010 and it will significantly increase the port’s capacity to handle increased volumes of cargoes.
“Extending the length of the quay will increase the berthing capacity by almost 20% enabling up to four large cargo ships to berth simultaneously.
“If we are successful in achieving our plans the added capacity provided by the extension of the quay would deliver new jobs and would add around £2 million to the regional Gross Value Added each year.
“I am delighted that a North East based company won the tender against international competition. The project itself could have a major impact in the region – during construction it will add £14.8 million to the local economy.”
Work actually began in June last year with nearly £3m invested in underwater preparatory works and internal roads built within the port to reduce construction traffic outside and minimise disruption for nearby businesses and residents.
The project includes the construction of a brand new 125m quay extension with a load capacity of 10 tonnes per square metre.
Meanwhile, a 118m section of existing quay which is over 70 years old will be removed, and old fenders will be replaced with. The renewal of 90m of quay wall at the former McNulty site also marks the start of investment to refurbish the site acquired by the Port in 2013.
In total 240 steel piles up to 33m long and weighing up to 21 tonne each will be needed to support the new quay and will be driven into the river bed over the course of the project.
Paul Stephenson, managing director of Southbay Civil Engineering Ltd, the North Shields-based firm which secured the contract worth £18.6m contract, said: “We are pleased to have won this major contract on our doorstep and delighted that our specialist civil engineering skills are put to good use with our experienced local staff and labour.
“It is fantastic to be part of this project to bring the Port of Tyne the vital flexibility it needs to continue to win business, supporting jobs and the North East economy.”