A top ferry freight boss has hailed the historic arrival of the new M6 link road as the “big bang” moment for Heysham Port and the biggest commercial opportunity in its history.
Alistair Eagles said next Monday’s historic opening of the £124.5m Bay Gateway “thrusts Heysham firmly forward as a growing hub for Irish Sea freight”.
Mr Eagles is CEO of Seatruck Ferries which operates regular sailings transporting cargo between Heysham and Dublin, and Heysham to Warrenpoint in County Down.
He said hauliers are now much more likely to use Heysham to transport freight across the Irish Sea rather than other ports like Holyhead in Wales and Cairnryan in Scotland – because lorries no longer have to “wrestle with congestion between the M6, Lancaster and the Heysham peninsula”.
“This is the moment we have campaigned and worked years for,” said Mr Eagles.
“The Bay Gateway will catapult us to the next level and make us even more competitive.
“A large percentage of Cairnryan’s tonnage drives past Heysham on the M6 as it originates in the North of England and the Midlands.
“This is a mammoth journey of 176 miles which takes more than three hours.
“It really is much easier to simply drop into Heysham slashing fuel costs, mileage, truck wear and tear and carbon emissions.
“It makes real sense at a time when hauliers and supermarkets are bending over backwards to be eco-friendly on the roads.”
Meanwhile the owners of Heysham Port have called Monday’s opening of the road a “key point” in the port’s history.
David Huck, port director of Peel Ports, said he sees “immense potential for the UK and Irish economies to benefit from greater use of the Irish Sea as a key cargo route”.
The opening of the road on Monday brings to an end a 68-year saga.
The Heysham to M6 Link was originally identified in the document ‘Road Plan for Lancashire’ in 1948 although work did not begin until 2014 after years of false starts, debate and delays.
The Bay Gateway, as it was named after a public vote, will link the M6 at Junction 34 to the Heysham bypass.