Labour’s MP for Southampton Itchen, John Denham, has today presented to Parliament the case for £150million of urgent investment to be unlocked for a major infrastructure project in Southampton.
In order for the Port of Southampton to remain competitive with European and UK rivals, it requires the redeveloping of two existing berths and dredging to allow access by the latest and largest container ships to the container port.
Work must begin in September in order for Southampton to be sure to remain competitive in the years ahead. Over 800 direct jobs and 1,200 indirect jobs will be safeguarded by the investment and over 200 new full time positions will be created. Unfortunately the entire project has faced a number of delays because of errors made by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and red tape at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Mr Denham [pictured right] has led the campaign in the last six months for this project to go ahead, in which the Business Secretary promised to take a personal interest. The Prime Minister has been made aware, but he chose not to personally reply to Mr Denham’s letter.
Today’s debate on the future of the Port of Southampton, taken place in Westminster Hall in Parliament, also gave other local MPs from Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to show their support for Southampton.
Mike Penning, the Minister for Shipping, responded to the debate. He made some assurances that he will attempt to speed up the process, but time is running out for the Government action which is needed as soon as possible.
Speaking after the debate, John Denham said:
“I think we have made real progress.
“The Shipping Minister Mike Penning admitted mistakes had been made and he promised that the Marine Management Organisation would have the necessary staff and expertise to deal with the planning application now in order to deal with mistakes of the past.
“He also sent a strong message to Hutchison Ports, the rival port operators, to back off from any future judicial challenge.
“There are still plenty of things that can go wrong, but I feel that today’s debate has made a difference and I am grateful to MPs across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight for taking part.”