Warrenpoint Port handles record tonnage and £6.5 billion worth of goods
WARRENPOINT Port handled a record 3.6 million tonnes of cargo last year, with the total value of goods moving through the facility surpassing £6.5 billion for the first time.
And those figures are likely to be eclipsed this year given the ambitious investment plans and increased services at the second largest port in Northern Ireland (and the fifth biggest on the island).
It follows four successive years of growth at Warrenpoint, largely attributed to the success of its core roll-on roll-off freight service and the diversified range of bulk goods the port handles, including timber, steel, animal feed, and cement, with imports to and exports across the world including Spain, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Ukraine, and the Americas.
The overall number of units that passed through the port in 2018 rose to more than 126,000, boosted by a 4.8 per cent increase in freight units.
This followed the deployment by Seatruck Ferries of two larger freight vessels on the key Warrenpoint to Heysham route in direct response to growing demand for unaccompanied trailer space.
That will enable the operator to carry 30,000 additional trailers a year on the crossing as it forecasts continued growth beyond Brexit.
The port also made several major investments during the year including more than £3m on the purchase of a new crane and the refurbishment of two others.
Warrenpoint Port’s chief executive Clare Guinness said: “We will continue our investment programme over the coming months as we aim to improve port infrastructure, plant and equipment.
“This will allow us to be more flexible, more efficient and open up more space, enabling trade to grow in line with expectations and widen the scope of goods we can handle."
She added: “Last year saw the commencement of wood chip exports from Warrenpoint for the first time while we also handled our largest consignment of wind turbines.”
The rising levels of activity resulted in the number of staff directly employed by the port increasing to 70. More than 200 people work at the harbour every day while port activity sustains more than 1,500 jobs locally.
Ms Guinness said: “Warrenpoint Port exists for the benefit of our economy and community. Trade is the lifeblood of the economy and the port activities support thousands of jobs which are vital for the prosperity of the region.
“As a trust port since 1971, we are committed to continually invest in the port estate and our community as we seek to build on and sustain our position as a driver for growth for many years to come.”