LONDON — Hutchison Ports withdrew an application to build a new container port in the U.K., throwing the $480 million facility into doubt.
Hutchison’s move came after the U.K. government announced last month it would hold a public inquiry into the planned Bathside Bay terminal at the Southeast coast port of Harwich.
The company, a subsidiary of Hong Kong’s Hutchison Port Holdings, said it had decided to pull its application “particularly in the light of the anticipated costs and delay associated with … a public inquiry.”
Hutchison received approval for the terminal, valid for 10 years, in 2006, but said construction of the facility, which would have an annual capacity of 2 million 20-foot-equivalent container units, was subject to market demand.
The local authority said it would hold talks with Hutchison and the government in December to try to revive the project.
The Harwich terminal would be built on the opposite bank of the river Orwell from the Port of Felixstowe, the U.K.’s largest container hub, which is also owned by Hutchison.
Felixstowe, which handles more than 3.5 million TEUs a year — equivalent to 40 percent of total UK container traffic — is boosting its annual capacity by 1 million TEUs to 5 million TEUs.
Hutchison also owns London Thamesport, 35 miles from the U.K.’s capital city, which handles approximately 500,000 TEUs a year.
The company will face increased competition next year, when Dubai’s DP World opens London Gateway, a 3.5 million-TEU container port and logistics hub on the River Thames.