Southampton Port is to receive new vehicle handling facilities that will add storage for 15,000 vehicles.
The £50m project, at the UK's busiest vehicle handling port, will help “increase the port’s vital contribution to the regional and national economy,” according to owner Associated British Ports (ABP).
International trade secretary Liam Fox said: “This investment is positive news not just for Southampton, but for our world-class automotive industry as a whole. Southampton is a key route for British brands to access international markets and this investment will allow exporters to take advantage of the global demand for British-made vehicles.”
The port handles British manufactured goods worth £40bn each year and more than 900,000 vehicles passed through in 2015, with 520,000 for export.
The development will take place in two stages. The first phase will include two new multi-storey vehicle handling facilities that together will be able to store 7,600 vehicles destined for export.
The second part of the investment will add 7,400 further spaces across two facilities, taking the port’s total storage space from 40,000 to 55,000 vehicles.
APB has invested £32m in the port of Southampton over the past five years to support vehicle exports. Developments have included new facilities for “roll on, roll off” vessels and an upgrade to rail infrastructure.
Southampton is the busiest vehicle handling port in the UK, and the sixth busiest in Europe. It handled 915,000 vehicles last year, up 9% on 2014, and the port predicts a similar rise in 2016.
ABP chief executive James Cooper said: “The port is a critical part of the supply chain for the British automotive industry, providing essential access to global markets.”
Infrastructure for vehicle storage is becoming a priority for operators in the UK, with 77% of the UK’s 1.5m output exported, according to ABP.
Meanwhile, ABP is building a new £5m marine control centre at the Port of Grimsby to replace the existing facility, which has become difficult to access by land because of deterioration of the peninsula.
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