Outer harbour deal breaks down

The prospect of the container cranes at Great Yarmouth’s outer harbour being used for the first time has been scuppered after the breakdown of an agreement between port operator EastPort and international freight firm Panalpina.

The �7m cranes at the port’s PSA quay have remained idle since they were delivered in May last year because of the tough economic climate.

However, Panalpina, which has an office in Yarmouth, was proposing to use the cranes to load more than 90 40ft containers and 10 20ft containers containing the parts of a power station destined for Mauritania in West Africa.

In the past week more than 30 lorries have brought the containers to the quayside in Yarmouth from a warehouse in Eye, Suffolk.

But only days before the scheduled arrival on Monday of the ship Socol 4 to pick up the containers, the agreement with EastPort broke down and Panalpina’s strategic development manager Mark Woodhouse was asked to find another port.

Mr Woodhouse, based in Aberdeen, would not elaborate on the row but described it as a “frustrating experience”.

He said: “I first discussed the shipment with EastPort about six weeks ago. All I can say is that for operational reasons we have now had to move it to Ipswich.

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“This would have been a great opportunity for positive publicity and we are always trying to highlight good things about our office in Yarmouth and its relationship with the local community.”

Other parts for the power station, being supplied by Empower to the Mauritanian government, are being shipped from Dubai.

It is understood that the deal was struck with EastPort and a sub-contract with PSA (Great Yarmouth) would have allowed the cranes to be used.

Eddie Freeman, chief executive of EastPort, declined to comment on the “day-to-day commerciality of the port”.

“We don’t discuss internal business matters with the media,” he said.

Peter Hambly, general manager for PSA (Great Yarmouth), also declined to make any comment.

Voicing his concern about the row, Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said: “The outer harbour is potentially the key to unlocking enormous economic growth not only for Yarmouth but Norfolk as well. I hope that is not being stilted by EastPort making short-sighted decisions.”