'Building for the future' by expanding the Southampton Approach Channel

Associated

British Ports (ABP) has received consent from the Marine Management

Organisation (MMO) to improve the marine access to the Port of Southampton with

an extensive programme of dredging.

The

dredging, in Southampton Water and the Solent, is part of an extensive

programme of investment centred around improving the capability of the port to

receive the largest vessels in the world long into the future.

The

consent marks the final piece in the jigsaw of licences, consents and

permissions to complete the programme.

Although

Southampton is blessed with a unique double tide that ensures a wide access

window for shipping, the requirement for deeper drafted vessels to call at

facilities such as Fawley Oil Refinery and the container terminal has placed

some limitations on access.

The

work will see the main navigational channel used by commercial shipping

deepened from a current minimum depth of 12.6m, at various points along its

length of 25 nautical miles.

The

channel will also be widened to 100m in some areas to allow vessels to pass one

another as they enter and exit the port.

More

than 23 million tonnes of material will be dredged along the route, from the

Nab Channel to the east of the Isle of Wight through the central Solent and

extending as far as the most northerly berth of the container terminal in the

Test Estuary.

The

material will be taken to a licensed deposit ground, located in the English

Channel to the south east of the Isle of Wight.

The

dredging works aim to:

  • improve

    the safety of navigation;
  • improve

    the ability of vessels to pass each other in the approaches to the port;
  • increase

    the marine tidal access window for large vessels; and
  • safeguard

    existing direct and indirect port-related jobs by ensuring that the Port of

    Southampton remains a competitive and viable deep-sea port into the future.

ABP

has proposed a series of measures to minimise the effects of the works on the

environment.

As well as managing

water quality and monitoring sediment levels, a compensatory intertidal habitat

scheme is in its advanced stages of completion at Cobnor Point in Chichester

Harbour.

The scheme will provide a new home for water voles, a protected

species native to Britain’s coast and inland waterways.

The

consent follows hard on the heels of permission to widen the channel at

Marchwood, work which is now underway.

ABP port director for Southampton, Doug Morrison, said: ‘This is fantastic news for the

long-term future health of the port, for the 12,000 people reliant on it for

work and for our customers who can be assured that we will continue to welcome

their vessels to the port in the years to come.

‘As

shipping gets bigger, the port needs to adapt in order to retain its place at

the forefront of the industry and to continue to be able to meet our clients’

needs.

‘The

dredging works are just the latest in a series of investments by ABP in

safeguarding the future of the Port of Southampton, including the ongoing work

to redevelop the container terminal that is so important to the region’s future

economic prospects.

More

information and the licence document is available from the MMO’s marine licensing public register (reference

34302/090114) and selected cases page.