Portland Harbour Authority unveils plans for £50m ship repair yard

Portland Port Portland was the operational port for the Royal Navy’s home fleet and became a commercial port in 1998

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Portland Harbour Authority has unveiled plans for a £50m ship repair yard that could create more than 300 new jobs.

The Dorset port is one of the world's biggest man-made harbours and has launched an international search for a development partner.

The project is part of a long-term plan to develop Portland Harbour into one of the most economically active ports on the south coast.

The authority said the yard was planned "to be operational by 2015".

'Exciting international project'

Portland Harbour Authority chief executive Steve Davies said: "The shipyard, when it is fully developed, is expected to employ more than 300 people directly.

"But the knock-on effect for the local economy may see up to an additional 700 jobs created in the supplier industries, such as engineering companies and the supply of raw materials."

He said the successful shipyard partner would be selected at the end of the year and work would take place in 2014.

MP Oliver Letwin, Minister for Government Policy, said: "This project should be a huge success.

"As we rebalance the economy and try to compete in the global race, we really need things like shipbuilding and ship repair to prosper in Britain."

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council chief executive David Clarke called it an "exciting international project which will regenerate significantly the local economy".

Portland became a commercial port in 1998 after the Royal Navy left two years earlier.

It handles more than 650 large vessels annually and employs more than 600 people on its dock estate.

According to Marine Marketing International, the main ship repair yards in England are in Falmouth in Cornwall, Teesport in North Yorkshire and Hebburn in Tyne and Wear.

Portland Harbour hosted the sailing events during the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

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