UPDATE: The planning application was accepted on October 19th 2019 with some restrictions regarding how the works can take place. The full decision can be viewed here (pdf file). Meanwhile, Stena Line have confirmed that two of the new E-Flexer ships will be deployed on the Belfast to Birkenhead route, replacing STENA LAGAN and STENA MERSEY. Work to reconfigure Victoria Terminal 1 and 2 in Belfast also began in May, although this has not yet involved any changes to either of the berths. The reconfiguration involves changes to the layout of the terminals which will effectively merge them into a single facility with a single entrance (Dargan Road) and exit (West Bank Road) for freight vehicles, and is designed to increase efficiency as well as improve driver facilities.
The Mersey Docks and Harbours company have submitted a planning application to upgrade the berth at the 12 Quays terminal at Birkenhead, in anticipation of the potential arrival of new vessel(s) on the Stena Line service from Belfast.
The application is for modifications to be made to the South berth to allow the twin-tier loading and unloading of vehicles. The present pontoon would be retained but with the addition of a new raised section above the existing ramp. This would be connected to shore via a hinged bridge, which will allow the pontoon to rise and fall with the tide in the same way the current bridge does.
There will also be some changes made to lighting, as well as necessary adjustments to fendering needed to accommodate larger vessels.
Although it is widely expected, Stena Line have not yet confirmed that the Belfast to Birkenhead service will receive any of the five new vessels which are currently on order from the AVIC Weihai shipyard in China. The first of these vessels is expected to be delivered around the end of 2019, though no route has yet been publicly announced for any of the vessels which are going to Stena Line. One each of the five vessels have been ordered to be chartered to Brittany Ferries and DFDS, with Stena Line receiving the remaining three.
The planning application and associated documents can be viewed here.
Title image: The pontoon and existing bridge to the shore at Birkenhead 12 quays. Copyright © Scott Mackey.