Belfast Harbour invests £40m to upgrade its VT3 container terminal
BELFAST Harbour plans to invest £40 million to upgrade its container operation at Victoria Terminal 3 (VT3), which connects Northern Ireland businesses to global markets through the European hub ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp.
The three-year investment programme will see the harbour invest in 10 new cranes and undertake major civil works delivered by local contractor FP McCann to reconfigure the 27-acre terminal to increase terminal capacity by around 30 per cent and improve terminal efficiency.
The harbour recently launched its 2035 strategic outlook with plans to be the ‘Best Regional Port in the World’ and a ‘Smart Port’ by investing in new technology and enhancing capacity, and the first stage of that at V3 will improve productivity and help customers grow and target new trade opportunities.
VT3 was opened in 1993 and was pivotal in repositioning Belfast as one of the island’s gateways to international markets.
It links Northern Ireland with the international hubs of Rotterdam and Antwerp, bringing in products such as food and drink and household goods, and providing a route to global markets for local exporters.
Last year the VT3 terminal handled almost 128,000 containers, a 1.5 per cent increase on the previous year and the highest volume since 2010. It currently handles more than 250 sailings a year between Belfast and the likes of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Le Havre.
Port director Michael Robinson said: “This investment will future-proof the terminal for a generation as well as utilise the most modern technology making Belfast Harbour one of the world leaders through the implementation of rubber tyre gantry remote control and stack automation technology.
“Long-term, we anticipate that the container market will continue to grow and surpass pre-recession levels and as a port we need to be ready to handle these volumes.”
The investment in new larger state-of-the-art cranes and a new terminal layout, future-proofs the terminal capacity and provides the ability to handle larger ships.
Mr Robinson added: “This is among the largest investment projects that Belfast Harbour has ever undertaken and will help create one of the most modern container handling terminals of its size in Europe.
“There is widespread recognition in industry and government that Northern Ireland’s future economic growth will rely on increasing exports and this investment puts us in a strong position to accommodate export growth by local companies over the long term.”