THE Port of Sunderland is looking to grab a slice of Nissan’s manufacturing success after shipping a cargo of export vehicles from its docks a couple of weeks ago.
Nissan has typically turned to the Port of Tyne for all its car-exporting needs but Sunderland’s close proximity to the car giant’s manufacturing plant and investment in infrastructure in recent years has made it an attractive option.
The news comes at a time when business is booming for the Wearside port, which has registered its busiest year since the city’s demise of shipbuilding and the closure of its local collieries.
The port, which has recently invested £500,000 in a new crane, has seen traffic into its docks increase by some 84% year on year.
For the period April 1, 2011, to March 31, 2012, 450 commercial vessels arrived at the port, an increase from the 245 vessels welcomed during the same period in the previous year.
The port said its increased activity shows the success of its growth plan which was launched two years ago.
Port director Matthew Hunt said the achievements of the port were down to its five key areas of business – bulk cargo, project and unitised cargo, ship repair and marine engineering, North Sea oil and gas industry support, and offshore renewable and subsea engineering.
The strategy has seen the port attract business from clients that are involved with existing offshore renewable projects and that are likely to be involved in greater-scale projects in the future.
Hunt said: “The offshore renewable energy market is a growing one and we have chosen to play a part in that.
“We have a 265-acre site here at the Port of Sunderland to support ongoing projects that the offshore developers are engaged in at the moment.
“Two years ago, we took a step back, and looked at the port and what the opportunities were for growth. Sunderland enjoys some fantastic natural assets, including berths that are 10 minutes from open sea.
“There’s good road access and strong links to international airports.
“The Nissan plant in Sunderland is a major success story both for the city and for the region and we have recently carried out a trial cargo of export vehicles. We’ll find out details of the trial at a later date.
“This really is just the start for us, and we are confident that we can build upon the success we have seen to date and continue to establish the city as the first port of call for businesses across the country and further afield.”
The port’s growth plan was a response to Sunderland City Council’s economic masterplan which sets out how the city will develop and grow over the next 15 years.
Council leader Paul Watson, who is also chairman of the Port of Sunderland’s board, said the increased traffic was testament to the hard work of the port’s management team.
He said: “The launch of the Sunderland’s economic masterplan in October 2010 set out our ambition to grow the port, and establish the city as a hub for offshore renewable energy and subsea engineering.
“Almost two years on, and the strategy put in place by our management team is really starting to herald results.”