Marchwood port set for major expansion plans

Marchwood port is managed by Solent Gateway Ltd under a 35-year agreement with the Ministry of Defence

MAJOR plans to intensify commercial activity and create jobs at the military port in Marchwood should not be at the expense of fresh congestion on local roads, a local councillor has warned.

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A near doubling of hardstanding and storage space to just over 40 hectares, a second oversize-vehicle entrance, and new offices are listed in a pre-application document submitted to New Forest District Council. The papers indicated both train and lorry movements would increase at the "underutilised" site, which is managed by Solent Gateway Ltd under a 35-year agreement signed in 2016 with landowner the Ministry of Defence. The proposals have emerged amid increasing focus on the local transport infrastructure after outline permission was recently granted for 1,500 homes at Fawley power station.

The Solent Gateway document said: "It is likely that additional traffic and freight movements would be generated by the proposed development leading to increases in the emissions on roads local to the site such as Marchwood Road, Bury Road and the A326. "Those roads, in the immediate surroundings of the proposed development, are likely to have the greatest impact on ambient air quality in the area as they provide the main routes into the site." The pre-application report is in advance of a number of planning submissions lined up for about 71 hectares at the site off Normandy Way.

Container stacks could rise up to about 16 metres with more visits by ships, the document said, but there were no plans for fixed gantry cranes, like those at Southampton, or new jetties. There could be up to about 22 rail movements a week, it said, but did not give an estimate of lorry numbers. Up to 700 berths a year are anticipated.

Cllr Sue Bennison, who represents Marchwood on NFDC, was at a virtual presentation of the masterplan by Solent Gateway. She welcomed extra jobs but wanted to see goods mostly transported by sea and rail, and not via the busy A326. She said: "I understand that goods can be brought in by sea and they have use of the railway, which suits Marchwood down to the ground.

That's by far the preference - any more use of the roads is really difficult until we get an upgrade on the A326. "As far as residents are concerned, the site is fairly distant from any houses backing onto it and there will be landscaping as well." Cllr Bennison added: "The other positive thing is that we are hoping it will produce jobs for local people in Marchwood and Hythe.

We are looking at it in a positive light and we remain to see what happens." If approved, the development would be constructed in phases over seven years, with the first aimed to start in the winter of 2021/22. The entire project would be completed by 2029, with the MoD retaining use of some parts of the port.

Solent Gateway's report added: "The proposed development would deliver much-needed improvements to maximise the port's commercial activities and support economic growth.

"The proposed development would contribute to increasing the UK's port freight capacity as well as more locally for Southampton port, which is expected to be nearing capacity with some trade being turned away.

"The saturation of Southampton port without capacity relief from other facilities, could place a significant constraint on growth in the Solent region."

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