Harbour profits up by 12%
Agri-food industry and investment boosts port trade to £20m
Northern Ireland's burgeoning agri-food industry and an increase in freight traffic has helped Belfast Harbour attain a 12% jump in pre-tax profit in its 400th year.
It made £19.9m in 2012 on the back of £39m revenue after handling 19.6m tonnes of goods during the year, an increase of 11% on 2011.
Dry bulk cargo, made up mostly of grain and other commodities used to make animal feed and is therefore closely linked to the health of the agri-food industry, climbed 16% while the roll-on/roll-off ferry traffic climbed 21%.
The harbour said the former has benefited from new deep water "facilities" and quayside cranes while one of the biggest ferry operators, Stena Line, has invested in new ships and a new terminal in Cairnryan.
Belfast Harbour itself has paid tax of over £6m and made capital investment of £47m, a record for the group, and said it also paid over £6m in tax.
"These funds, generated entirely from the harbour's revenue streams, have helped position Belfast as one of UK's leading renewable energy ports with over 200 engineers already working at the new DONG Energy terminal," Len O'Hagan, Belfast Harbour's Chairman, said.
DONG Energy is a Danish company which assembles turbines in Belfast Harbour for the offshore windfarm market.
"Belfast Harbour remains a cornerstone of the local economy with around 65% of Northern Ireland's seaborne trade passing through the port. Ensuring that the harbour and its estate continue to support the local economy, however, does not come cheaply."
"In the past 10 years £190m has been invested in new facilities and new business sectors. Last year's strong financial performance will underpin plans for significant infrastructure projects in the future," Mr O'Hagan added.
Belfast Harbour handles 65% of Northern Ireland's seaborne trade and is a vital gateway for raw materials, exports and consumer goods for the entire island. The port is also Northern Ireland's leading logistics and distribution hub and is home to many well-known local businesses such as the George Best City Airport, Harland & Wolff, Bombardier, the NI Science Park, and Titanic Quarter. As a UK Trust Port, it is an independent statutory body. Its board is appointed by the Department for Regional Development. Income is generated primarily by charges on services to shipping and from rental income.