A "pivotal moment" has been reached in the development of an ambitious project for the UK's most easterly port.

Associated British Ports (ABP) has marked a significant milestone in the £25 million development of the Lowestoft Eastern Energy Facility (LEEF), as dredging continues for the next few months in the outer harbour at the Port of Lowestoft.

Lowestoft Journal: The plan for ABP’s Lowestoft Eastern Energy Facility (LEEF). Picture: ABPThe plan for ABP’s Lowestoft Eastern Energy Facility (LEEF). Picture: ABP (Image: Associated British Ports)

With the aim of delivering state-of-the-art infrastructure to meet the current and future demands of the offshore energy industry, ABP and its contractor - civil engineering firm McLaughlin & Harvey - is continuing capital dredging of the outer harbour and channel approaches.

It will see around 170,000m3 of material being removed in the capital dredge, which will allow for "minimum depth berth pockets of 7.5m."

ABP said this depth would enable Lowestoft to accommodate the next generation of offshore support vessels, marking a "crucial step" in transforming the port "into an offshore energy hub".

With mariners informed of the works, ABP said the Boskalis Suction Dredger, the Sospan Dau, supported by small survey craft Sea Eagle, had started work recently.

It comes after initial marine piling works had been carried out by grab dredger UKD Cherry Sand, with the whole dredging operations due to be completed in August.  

LEEF forms part of the Port Gateway project which is one of five "transformational regeneration projects" that was made possible by East Suffolk Council's successful investment plan submitted for £24.9m of funding from the government's Towns Fund back in 2020.

Representing significant investment by ABP, supported by East Suffolk Council and the government's Towns Fund, LEEF will create more quay side space and deeper water allowing for simultaneous use by three service operation vessels as the Port Gateway project supports its development.

'Strategic investment in the future of Lowestoft'

Julian Walker, regional director for ABP, said: "The commencement of capital dredging signifies a pivotal moment in the realisation of the Lowestoft Eastern Energy Facility (LEEF).

"LEEF is not just a port project; it is a strategic investment in the future of Lowestoft and the wider energy sector.

"ABP’s significant investment in the LEEF project signals our commitment to equipping Lowestoft – the UK’s most easterly port – with the capabilities required to thrive in a rapidly evolving energy landscape, and enhance its capacity to service the growing Southern North Sea energy sector."

David Baskin, senior contracts manager at McLaughlin & Harvey, added: "We are pleased to have reached this important milestone in the project, having recently completed marine piling and tie rod installation.

"Works are now well under way and on track to complete by September 2024."