Leith port: three faces

Saturday 12th November 2011
Courtesy:cruiseeurope.com, secretscotland.wordpress.com

Forth Ports Ltd has joined forces with Scottish Enterprise and the City of Edinburgh Council, in an agreement that will develop create a new gateway port at Leith focused on renewable energy, shipping, and tourism.

It follows on the Infrastructure fund Arcus completing a £746m take-over of Forth Ports in June and announcing it wanted to focus on renewable energy opportunities rather than retail and real estate reports The Scotsman. Accordingly the controversial biomass plant is still possible, Pelamis is already sited at Leith port and there is still the intention to expand the cruise liner terminal to tap into tourism income. What will get swept away are plans to build 15,000 new houses and a shopping esplanade.

Under the new Memorandum of Understanding the three partners will work together to capitalise on the economic potential of the port by conducting a range of technical and feasibility studies that will form the basis of future plans for the port.

With considerable economic potential in the port’s capacity to serve a range of industries, such as manufacturing and tourism, it is expected that the port will have a critical role to play as a catalyst for Scotland’s economic growth.

Scottish Enterprise will now procure planning, feasibility and design work and where appropriate assist with unlocking derelict and redundant land for economic development purposes.

Lena Wilson, Scottish Enterprise CEO (right) said: “Scotland’s ports have an important role to play insupporting our nation’s economy. As Scotland's capital port, Leith’s strategic position offers significant untapped potential to serve a range of industries.

“However, we recognise that to realise its true potential, strategic planning and investment in the port and surrounding infrastructure is required. This partnership will result in an ambitious plan to ensure Leith’s assets are exploited to help create new jobs and economic growth for Scotland.”

Charles Hammond, CEO of Forth Ports, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and the City of Edinburgh Council on this significant project for the Port of Leith.

"Our ports in Scotland play a key role in supporting Scotland’s economy and this masterplan project to identify the opportunities for Leith, the largest deep water port in Scotland with over 60 hectares of portside development land, to become an even more important transport hub is exciting.

“Not only will we identify ways in which existing users of the Port of Leith will be able to grow their businesses, but also that we can attract early investment from the growing renewables industry as well as other key industries, including tourism.”

Cllr Tom Buchanan, Convener of the Economic Development Committee, said: "The Waterfront is a key investment zone for Edinburgh's future growth. The Council recognises the importance of the public and private sectors working together to deliver ambitious plans for the city and I am delighted we now have such a strong partnership to develop this area."

The Port of Leith is Scotland’s largest enclosed deepwater port with 158 hectares of land, up to 100 hectares of water area and the capability to handle ships up to 50,000 DWT. Significant capital investment has been made in the development of port infrastructure to ensure that the highest level of service is provided to customers.

The fact that it is a non-tidal enclosed dock system makes it ideal for more complex cargo handling and specialist work and it is anticipated that as industry scales up at the port,  significant infrastructure improvements (the trams perhaps?) will be made to give optimum access to the dock. 

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