Brexit: Port of Dover boss says 'no cast iron guarantee' of EU funding for Western Docks project after leave vote

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The boss of the Port of Dover has said there is "no cast iron guarantee” EU funding will remain in place for its £120 million expansion plans but has said the project will continue regardless.

Works are underway on the Dover Western Docks Revival, a new cargo terminal which will create 600 jobs and protect another 140 when it opens in 2019.

In an open letter following last week’s Brexit vote, the port’s chief executive Tim Waggott accepted uncertainty had gripped the nation but reassured investors and residents that the project’s future “is not, and never was, entirely dependent on EU funding”.

The planned marina for Dover Western Docks
The planned marina for Dover Western Docks

“We would have been extremely unwise to put all our funding eggs in one basket when designing a project so crucial to our future,” he said.

However, he acknowledged there could be “more remote consequences of this in the later years of the project as an exit is negotiated”.

He said: “We will be working as hard as we can to reduce that uncertainty and ensure a strong future for our customers and community.”

It comes weeks after the port agreed a £90 million loan with the Royal Bank of Scotland to fund the next stages of the development.

Port of Dover chief executive Tim Waggott
Port of Dover chief executive Tim Waggott

The project was given a vote of confidence by the European Commission last year, which committed to inject £104 million of funding into the Dover to Calais route to support major improvement projects on both sides of the Channel.

So far, the scheme has received £36 million of EU funding.

The port already handles more than £100 billion of trade a year – roughly 17% of the UK’s imports and exports in goods.

In the past two years, ferry freight traffic through Dover and Calais has increased by 20% and is expected to rise by a further 40% by 2030.

Mr Waggott said: “In this post referendum period, projects like Dover Western Docks Revival are more important than ever.

The Port of Dover
The Port of Dover

“As Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin said only this week, investment in infrastructure sends a very clear signal to the rest of the world that Britain is still very much open for business.

“At this time there is one unshakeable certainty – whatever the future holds for our country, we will always be an island, we will always need ships to carry our supplies and exports, and we will always need ports like Dover to service those ships.”

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