27/02/2009

New Port Plan Moves Forward

A £70m plan for a new Stena Line port linking Scotland to Northern Ireland has been recommended to receive council approval.

The ferry operator wants to move the Irish Sea services out of Stranraer into a new terminal at Old House Point just north of Cairnryan on Loch Ryan.

The new port would reduce journey times, cut fuel use and avoid the need for operational dredging of the navigational channel.

Planning officers at Dumfries and Galloway Council have backed the recommendation of a harbour empowerment order (HEO) but called for greater detail to be given in an environmental assessment.

The Wigtown area committee will meet to discuss the plans next week.
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The final decision on granting the HEO lies with the Scottish Government but local councillors can make objections and representations.

They have now been recommended to support the scheme.

If all objections are satisfactorily dealt with, by means of a public inquiry or otherwise, the HEO will be approved by the Scottish Parliament and only when this approval is given can any construction work start.

A Stena Line spokesman welcomed the recommendation and said he looked forward to the next stage in the planning process.

If the planning application proceeds without major delay, the new port could be operational as early as summer 2011.

Last year Stena Line made a £37m investment in a new Belfast terminal.

(GK/JM)

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