Timber boost for Port of Bideford

Joseph Bulmer

THE ships are coming in for the Port of Bideford, with the help of the region’s pine forests.

Timber from Torridge and North Devon forests is boosting trade for the port and generating valuable income for the district council.

By the end of this year 10 timber vessels will have used Bideford’s facilities, each bringing in around �4,000. Plans are also being made for this to be continued next year.

Four vessels have so far docked in the port since the enterprise started in May, each picking up around 2,500 tonnes of timber from local forests, including from Halwill Forest, the Clovelly Estate, Muddiford and Filleigh, for transportation to Eastern Germany on behalf of Euroforest.

The latest, the Malta registered MV Baltiykiy, sailed from Bideford Quay with her cargo on Friday morning.

Six more such ships are scheduled before the end of the year.

The former cattle market site near the district council headquarters has been brought into use as a storage area for the timber prior to loading.

The timber formerly went through the port of Plymouth and the Torridge enterprise will mean several thousand lorry miles being saved by shipping from Bideford as well as local owner-driver lorries being used for the operation.

It has also proved a quayside attraction for local people and for holiday visitors.

Cllr Barry Parsons, leader of Torridge District Council, said: “The shipping activity at Bideford Harbour is becoming more buoyant and six more log ships, at around 2,500 tonnes a time, have been confirmed up until December 20 and next year’s log ships are being planned. Income generation is a key component for this new council, especially in the current economic climate and looking forward. I am delighted to see the response from officers in taking up this challenge.

“A salt ship in at the beginning of the week was delivering road salt in readiness for the Devon County Council winter gritting and a ball clay vessel is due to arrive around September 10, at the same time as a timber ship. A recent meeting with the Bideford Port Employers Association regarding possible further new business is excellent news and will generate income for the council, making the harbour and pilotage statutory services once again in surplus.”