In the interest in forging closer commercial and civic ties with our nearest trading neighbour, Northern Ireland, The Chamber, North Lancashire was generously hosted on a day visit by our Irish counterpart in Newry, The Newry Chamber of Commerce. John Regan, President of The Chamber, and Alistair Eagles, a Chamber Director and CEO of Seatruck, from Heysham, have just completed the visit, hosted by the Newry Chamber President, Michael McKeown.
Although the 2 areas are geographically separated by the Irish Sea, they share a common connection by way of the twice daily Seatruck Ferries freight service.
In the years running up to the successful announcement of the new Heysham Bypass, the Bay Gateway, support from the other side of the Irish Sea played a pivotal role in securing this vital investment for the region. Newry face very similar problems, traffic-wise, that Lancaster District does and The Chamber, North Lancashire has pledged its support in helping the Newry region achieve the goal of getting their own bypass to relieve the heavy congestion through Newry town. The proposed ‘Southern Relief Road’ would transform traffic conditions in the local area.
John Regan, The Chamber, North Lancashire said, “We are already seeing the tangible benefits of the new bypass, and it will provide much relief for logistics planners and HGV drivers when using Heysham Port. We conservatively predict at least a doubling of freight traffic over the coming years through Heysham so it is vital that we support our Irish counterparts in gaining permission for their new bypass.
“In addition, we also see other opportunities beside trade. Opportunities such as skills and education transfers and exchanges, as well as the possibility of an Irish Sea Hub.”
Alistair Eagles, CEO of Seatruck Ferries and Chamber Director, added, “Warrenpoint Port is ideally located with easy access to both the north and south of Ireland and from there, I have absolutely no doubt that we can continue to grow our market share as the only operator 100% dedicated to freight in the Irish sea”.
Seatruck has recently invested over £70 million in two new ferries, with the addition of 30 new jobs. Executive members of Newry Chamber of Commerce were given a personal tour of one of the Seatruck ferries.
CEO of Newry Chamber, Mary Meehan commented “We are delighted to welcome our colleagues from Lancashire Chamber here today, and we congratulate them on their success at lobbying for their top priority transport project ‘The Heysham to M6 road link’. Newry Chamber of Commerce is committed to continue to lobby and progress our own priority project which will be a game-changer not only for the future of our region but for the completion of efficient transport links through Northern Ireland across the Irish Sea to the arterial motorway system of the mainland and on to Europe”.
Caption “The Chamber, North Lancashire’s President, John Regan, is welcomed by Newry Chamber’s President, Michael McKeown