-This article originally appeared in Lloyd’s List

Belfast Harbour, Northern Ireland’s largest port, saw a 2% rise in pre-tax profit to £17.8m and a 4% increase in turnover to £36.1m during 2010-2011.

Underpinning the publicly owned trust port’s performance were record volumes, up 7% to 17.6m tonnes.

The number of freight vehicles passing through the port rose by 14% to 357,000 units and 4m tonnes were handled in the dry bulk sector, which includes aggregates and coal.

Although some sectors, such as those related to construction, continued to struggle, this was offset by growth elsewhere.

Capital expenditure projects valued at £18.3m were completed during 2010-11, and a further £53.8m was committed to additional projects at the year end, mainly the development of the UK’s first dedicated offshore wind logistics terminal for DONG Energy.

Belfast Harbour chairman Len O’Hagan said that “significant uncertainty” still exists in the global economy, with the UK officially falling back into recession and the continuing Eurozone crisis undermining business confidence.

“There are still opportunities for growth, though, particularly in renewable energy, where Belfast Harbour is investing £50m in a new terminal for the assembly of offshore wind turbines.”

During the year Belfast Harbour also benefited from a number of developments on the Irish Sea, including the opening of Stena Line’s Scottish terminal at Loch Ryan and the introduction of two larger and more modern vessels on the route. Stena Line also completed its takeover of the DFDS Belfast-Birkenhead and Heysham services.

Mr O’Hagan added: “Although the overall performance of Belfast Harbour has been strong, it is clear that economic recovery across the UK and Ireland remains patchy. Belfast Harbour, however, is committed to its long-term strategy of investing in infrastructure to maintain the port’s competitiveness and provide much-needed capital projects for the construction industry.”

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