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Image of two men in high visibility outside at a construction site.

Port lifted by local links

Port of Sunderland has strengthened links with a major North East manufacturer, after a significant infrastructure project paved the way for increased cargo handling capabilities.

The municipally owned port has completed two rounds of cargo handling projects for Sunderland crane manufacturer Liebherr Sunderland Works, after Port of Sunderlandwas able to meet the company's needs at short notice, thanks to newly developed infrastructure suitable for handling and logistics projects.

The port made use of its newly redeveloped Jubilee Quay, which has been subject to a £400,000 resurfacing programme, delivered during the summer to create more commercial opportunities for the port. The recently refurbished land was used as a base from which to load three large Liebherr cranes to a vessel for shipment overseas last week - the first operation to be completed on the quay following the end of redevelopment work last month.

Matthew Hunt, port director, said that the project was a fantastic strengthening of Port of Sunderland's links with local business, and further evidence that strategic investment in the port was paying dividends for the city.

Mr Hunt said: "Port of Sunderland is becoming an increasingly capable port, thanks to the investment we are making in our facilities and infrastructure, and the strengthened relationships we enjoy with a range of customers is proof that our endeavours are paying off.

"The successful delivery of a project for Liebherr has opened the door for us to work with the business more closely and we are delighted to have helped them with another project, which we completed after the resurfacing project that was announced in August. Liebherr's custom since then is a real vote of confidence in the port."

He added: "We really do hope that this is an opportunity for us to further build on our relationship with a business that has such strong links in the city and to work in partnership long into the future."

Port of Sunderland initially supported Liebherr with a storage project, shifting three offshore cranes from the company's facility, based upriver in the Deptford area of the city, to the port's Hendon base, for temporary storage.

The port offered the required facilities at short notice, with existing storage sheds and the newly developed quay providing space to house the large metal structures.

Since then, the port has secured a shipping project with Liebherr, with another three offshore cranes having been shipped via Port of Sunderland to their final destination in Russia just last week. The cranes were loaded on to the MV Meg vessel from the port's Jubilee Quay, further use of the renovated quay.

In total, the logistics projects undertaken by Liebherr and the port have seen them move more than 65 Kolli, something that has required the support of more than 20 trailers.

Ralph Saelzer, managing director of Liebherr Sunderland Works, which employs more than 180 people, said: "Port of Sunderland has been a fantastic support to us on these projects.

"Both of these operations went extremely smoothly and have been handled absolutely professionally, and that is testament to the team at Port of Sunderland, and a great example of two local businesses supporting one another."

The latest round of improvements at Port of Sunderland began in July and saw Jubilee Quay - the third largest of its eleven quays - redeveloped, with a new asphalt hardstanding that allows it to be used for the shipments of bulk and project cargoes. The project, saw earthworks, surfacing and drainage work carried out on the site, and follows major work at the port's Greenwell's Quay - located on the northern side of the port - which has also been resurfaced, with around 4,500 sq m of concrete hardstanding. The combined value of the contracts was almost £1million.

Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, and chair of the Port of Sunderland board, said that the work undertaken to improve the port had provided a significant boost for Port of Sunderland, and that the Liebherr project was evidence of that.

He said: "The work completed at the port over the summer months has been all about gearing it up to handle projects such as those completed on behalf of Liebherr.

"Port of Sunderland enjoys a fantastic - and growing - reputation, thanks to its flexible approach. Having quays that are fit for a greater number of projects allows the team at the port to be even more responsive and deliver a larger number of services for the businesses they work with. The immediate benefits brought about by the improvements to the quays suggest that this will be another great investment, that will generate a positive return."

The investment in the port feeds in to a combined public and private sector spend of £1billion that was announced earlier this year by the city's Economic Leadership Board and Sunderland Business Group. Known as the 3,6,9 Vision, the plan plots out the development of Sunderland between now and 2024.