Profits rise above £26m in year of records at city harbour
Belfast's emerging reputation as a renewable energy hub helped the city's Harbour achieve record growth last year, according to new figures.
Turnover rose by 30% to £50.3m, whilst operating profit climbed by 42% to £26.2m during the financial year, during which Belfast Harbour committed to more than £60m to new projects.
Tonnages handled rose by a record 16% to 22.7m, with strong performances in dry bulk cargo like grain, which was up by 45%, reflecting the success of our agri-food industry.
Freight vehicle activity increased by 8% and there were also 105,000 cruise ship passengers and crew who visited Belfast from around the world. Over 466,000 vehicles passed through the port and passenger numbers increased by 2% to 1.4m.
A new £53m offshore wind energy terminal, the first in the UK or Ireland, is leased to DONG Energy and ScottishPower Renewables, and boosted associated traffic from just 3,000 to 200,000 tonnes. During 2013, a planning application to reclaim 60 acres of land from Belfast Lough was lodged and preparatory works on a major new coal handling and storage facility began.
There are also plans for an extension to Sydenham Business Park and work is already under way on a waterfront office known as City Quays 1.
Granted planning approval in October 2013, it will be the largest Grade A, city-centre development to be given approval in Belfast since 2007.
Other developments included a new marina building for pleasure craft crews visiting the 40-berth Abercorn Basin Marina.
Len O'Hagan, Belfast Harbour chairman, said that the facility, which handles 40% of the region's sea-borne trade is still at the heart of the Northern Ireland economy in its 400th year.
"Much of 2013's growth was secured by investments totalling £100m by the harbour in three sectors – renewables, dry bulk and freight," he said.
"Record levels of profit have enabled the harbour to commit £60m towards further projects to benefit the local economy. This is necessary to accommodate a projected 68% increase in trade over the next 15 years and ensure that Belfast Harbour remains forward-looking as the island's most modern gateway to overseas markets."
The port is also home to George Best City Airport, Harland & Wolff, Bombardier, Odyssey, the NI Science Park, Titanic Belfast, HBO, Northern Ireland Science Park and Dell.
Transport Minister Danny Kennedy said that the figures demonstrated the significant economic contribution that Belfast Harbour continued to make to Northern Ireland, in terms of connectivity, jobs and the local economy.