This Thursday, September 9, the new Port of Calais was inaugurated in the presence of Louis Le Franc, Prefect of Pas-de-Calais, Xavier Bertrand, President of the Hauts-de-France region, Natacha Bouchart, Mayor of Calais, President of Grand Calais Terres & Mers, Jean-Marc Puissesseau, President of the Société d'Exploitation des Ports du Détroit.
Considered to be the largest European port infrastructure project of the decade, this port is an essential link for trade in Europe and with the United Kingdom. It provides the Calais-Dover link, the shortest and busiest maritime route linking continental Europe to the British Isles. It is currently the leading passenger port in continental Europe (10 million passengers/year) and the leading French port for goods, excluding containers (43 million tons of freight/year).
Emblematic both for the technical challenge it represented and for the amount of investment required for its construction (863 million euros), this new port took 6 years to build. It was designed to anticipate the long-term effects of climate change - by protecting the port from rising sea levels, for example - and to preserve the environment and biodiversity:
- During the construction phase, by mitigating the hydrosedimentary impacts, limiting the disturbance of marine mammals and birds, light pollution, road traffic, and more generally noise, by fighting against marine and air pollution
- During the operation phase, by protecting areas favorable to bird nesting on the port platforms, by monitoring water quality and the sanitation of the platforms, by seeking high environmental and energy performance of buildings, and by limiting disruption of road traffic.
The work has doubled the surface area of the port infrastructure, with the development of 65 new hectares of open space, 45 of which have been reclaimed from the sea. In addition, there is a 3.2 km long breakwater, a 90-hectare navigable basin, and three wharves designed to accommodate the new generation of ferries. The work will also create the space necessary for the permanent integration of rail-road-sea intermodal infrastructures. During the entire duration of the works:
- Approximately 3,500 people worked daily on site, representing nearly 3 million cumulative work hours, with over 2,000 jobs created,
- 11% of the total number of hours worked on integration (330,000 hours), through direct hiring (drivers, operators, etc.) or external services (cleaning, etc.), compared to a target of 7%,
- More than 740 local companies in the Hautsde-France region have been involved, representing €185 million in contracts, of which €93 million was awarded to SMEs.
The Société des Ports du Détroit, which brings together Meridiam, Caisse des Dépôts (which hold an equal share of 80% of the capital), the Nord de France and Côte d'Opale Regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the Grand Port Maritime de Dunkerque, was specially created to finance, build and operate the Port of Calais concession for 50 years. Today, it employs more than 620 people.
The full and official opening of the Port is scheduled for October 4th.