Part of the fabric of South Down for almost 250 years, Warrenpoint Port has long been established as an economic driver for the Newry, Mourne and Down District benefiting from being equidistant between Belfast and Dublin.
As Northern Ireland’s second largest port it handled, a record, 3.56 million tonnes of cargo in 2017 valued at £6.2 billion. Cargoes handled included RoRo, cement, animal feed, steel and timber. The Port also operates a container service and continues to be a major catalyst for growth in the area and beyond.
The value of the Port to the local area was illustrated by an independently authored economic impact statement which found the Port had generated more than £61 million Gross Value Added (GVA) over a 10-year period while sustaining more than 1,559 full-time equivalent jobs.
The Port is not standing still, however, with plans to increase throughput over the coming years. Newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Clare Guinness explains: “The recently published Warrenpoint Harbour Authority Economic Impact Statement provided a comprehensive overview of the significant contribution the Port has made to Warrenpoint and the wider Newry, Mourne and Down areas over recent years.
“It demonstrated the tremendous achievements of the Authority under the guidance of Chairman Stan McIlvenny and his Board, who have laid strong foundations for its continued success.”
The Port employs 67 staff directly, but more than 200 people work at the harbour every day. In 2016 alone, the GVA generated by the Port was worth £7.3 million to the Northern Ireland economy through on-site activity in addition to the local supply chain and employees’ wage expenditure.
For many of Northern Ireland’s most ambitious firms, the port represents the first call on their export journey, linking them to the key Great Britain market but also to Spain, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, the Ukraine and the Americas.
And while Warrenpoint harbour is best known for the volume of freight traffic it handles, the Port is also benefiting from Northern Ireland’s reputation as an emerging tourist destination, with each arriving cruise ship resulting in £46,000 of local expenditure and £18,000 of GVA to the wider economy.
Guinness adds: “The numbers are impressive, but we envisage significant scope for improvement, and look forward to publishing our Master Plan shortly as we look ahead to the 35 years of development, alongside local stakeholders and other industry partners.
“There are undoubtedly significant challenges to face, not least Brexit and the uncertainty around future trade arrangements between the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and the wider European Union.
“The improvement of local road infrastructure is also key, and we were delighted to welcome the recent opening by the Department for Infrastructure of a consultation on options for the delivery of a Newry Southern Relief Road.
“This project has the potential to significantly improve the economic prosperity of the south Down area by providing a more direct route for freight from across the island of Ireland entering and exiting Warrenpoint Port.
“Its successful delivery is just one of several key priorities for the Port over the coming years as we seek to continue our growth trajectory, no matter what the consequence of Brexit and the ongoing trade negotiations.”
Warrenpoint Harbour Authority
The Docks, Warrenpoint, Co. Down
T: 028 4177 3381