A crucial sea crossing linking the UK to mainland Europe has been given a €143million (£104million) cash injection as its importance to EU trade and transport continues to grow.
The €130billion (£100billion) a year route through Dover and Calais is so vital to the EU economy, the European Commission has announced funding to support major improvement projects on both sides of the Channel.
The UK’s slice of the investment will be ploughed into the Dover Western Docks Revival project, which is improving the efficiency of the ferry terminal as well as developing a logistics hub within the port.
In France, the cash will be used to bring forward the Calais Port 2015 project - a scheme to build a new harbour, terminal and berths to accommodate the bigger ferries and provide port capacity for future growth.
The two ports - which run the only identified core seaway connecting the UK with the rest of mainland Europe on the Trans-European Transport Network – have been working together to prepare for the growth in trade. The improvements are part of the BRIDGE (Building the Resilience of International and Dependent Gateways in Europe) project.
In the past two years, ferry freight traffic through Dover and Calais has increased by 20 per cent. And that’s expected to rise by a further 40 per cent by 2030.
The latest award comes on top of an earlier EU grant of €14million (£10.2million) in 2014.
Tim Waggott, the Port of Dover’s chief executive, said: “This funding shows how hard we are working on a number of levels to bring investment into Dover and to address the challenges of a growing EU trade route on our community.
“It also reflects the importance to the UK, France and Europe of the Dover Western Docks Revival for both national and European economies.
“Both Dover and Calais will use this money to ensure traffic passes through our ports smoothly and efficiently both now and in the future.”
Jean-Marc Puissesseau, president of the Port of Boulogne-Calais, said: “We thank the European Union for its support of the Calais-Dover maritime link. The EU is fully playing its role in ensuring that critical infrastructures are updated to face future challenges.
“Thanks to this support, projects such as Calais Port 2015 and the Dover Western Docks Revival will become a reality and will contribute directly towards the greater and more effective European integration we are looking for.”
Daniel Percheron, president, Regional Council, Nord Pas de Calais, said: “This European funding is really good news for Calais, for the Region Nord Pas de Calais, and for France and Europe.
“The Calais Port 2015 project will greatly contribute to strengthening the link between Dover and Calais and is necessary for the port to meet the growing traffic expected in coming years.
“It will also create more than 2,000 jobs during the construction period and hundreds more will result in the long term. Calais Port 2015 will help enable the Region Nord Pas de Calais to become one of the main logistics platforms of Northern Europe.”
Brian Simpson, European coordinator, Motorways of the Sea, said:
“I am delighted the Motorways of the Seas project is contributing towards the regeneration of Dover Western Docks. I think it will bring about a new chance for Dover and also enable the port to go into the next decade confident that business will grow and that it will keep on being the success story it has been so far. And I am happy that we are contributing and being a part of that success story.”
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