A port development at Harwich will create a "ring of steel and concrete" around residents in its path, a public meeting heard.

Opponents to the proposed container terminal said people with houses on Bathside would be in a "living hell" if it went ahead.

The claims were made at a public meeting yesterday held by Friends of the Earth to raise its profile against Hutchison Ports UK's designs for Bathside Bay.

Representatives from English Nature, RSPB, Friends of the Earth, Shotley residents' group Starboard, and Harwich conservation group Spindrift answered questions on their anti-development stance at Kingsway Hall, Dovercourt.

Members of the public spoke of their concerns about the adequacy of compensation measures for the effect of the development on mudflats, recently designated a Special Site of Scientific Interest.

Dr Chris Gibson, senior conservation officer for English Nature, said: "The compensation package at Hamford Water is comparable to that of Bathside Bay and the birds are likely to take to it, but we are still against the development, like RSPB, because we are in the business of conservation."

Rene Henderson, who is overseeing the RSPB's case against Bathside, said the organisation was worried about how the terminal would impact its property, including Stour Wood nature reserve and Copperas Bay.

While bird habitats could be compensated for, there was no mitigation for people, said Shotley spokesman Tim Mason.

John Tipple, of the Stour and Orwell Friends of the Earth, agreed, saying: "I sympathise with the people in Shotley, but if you live on Bathside you will live in hell."

Published Friday, May 9, 2003

Brought to you by the Evening Gazette