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#BelfastLough - Belfast Harbour announced its results for 2017 and has reported a record financial performance and a strong investment pipeline of £132m in port infrastructure.

In addition to port infrastructure, real estate projects are been targeted at improving the competitiveness of its operations and generating further growth.  

Turnover in the year to December 31st 2017 was up 6.5% to £61.9million and operating profit up 5.6% to £34million. The growth in turnover and profits was supported by a 3% increase in port cargo handled to a record 23.7million tonnes, and additional income from the Harbour’s successful property developments in its City Quays river front offices and AC Marriott Hotel, plus new Film Studios on the North Foreshore.

During 2017 Belfast Harbour invested £42million in new port facilities and regeneration developments across its 2,000 acre Estate.

Future capital expenditure plans include an upgrade of the port’s ferry and container handling facilities at a cost of £60million, and further investments in new logistics warehousing units. Planned developments at City Quays include a new 900-space multi story car park currently under construction and a further 250,000 square foot Grade ‘A’ office building which is awaiting final planning approval.

The planned upgrade of ferry terminal facilities is in support of a major investment by Stena Line in new larger Roll-On/Roll-Off ferries which are due to start operation on Belfast routes in early 2020.(See related story: upgrade on Merseyside).

Belfast Harbour is also making a substantial investment in new cranes and terminal capacity improvements at the port’s container terminal at VT3. This terminal handles direct shipping services between Belfast and the key European hub ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp, and provides global connectivity for Northern Ireland’s exporters and importers.

Commenting on the annual report, Belfast Harbour’s Chairman, David Dobbin, said: “Belfast Harbour is a key economic driver for our region. Our Trust Port status allows us to reinvest all of our earnings after tax for the benefit of port users and the wider local economy. This ongoing investment cycle has been key to our financial success and has allowed us to support the growth in trade and passenger/visitor numbers, and the creation of quality new jobs across our estate.

“We estimate that our current investment programme will generate over 10,000 jobs. Over 2,000 jobs have already been delivered in the City Quays offices and hotel developments, and the Harbour Film Studios.”

Joe O’Neill, Belfast Harbour’s CEO, added: “A key factor in the success of Belfast Harbour is the ongoing growth in port throughput in sectors such as aggregates, steel, animal feeds and grains, Roll-On/Roll-Off freight, ferry passengers and cruise ship visits. Port operations account for c.80% of turnover and the continued delivery of best-in-class marine facilities remains our investment priority.

“The Harbour’s real estate activities also are delivering ongoing growth. As trade in traditional sectors such as coal and refined oil reduce, we will continue to explore new trade opportunities, alongside those in real estate and tradeable services. Our ongoing partnerships with Titanic Quarter and Catalyst Inc. also continue to yield positive results.”

During 2017, 5,874 ships arrived at Belfast Harbour. Over half a million freight vehicles passed through the port while passenger numbers rose by 9% to 1.5m.

The port welcomed 155,000 cruise passengers and Northern Ireland’s agri-food sector also continued to perform strongly with related trades handled increasing by 10% to almost 2.3m tonnes.

Published in Belfast Lough

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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