Port’s plan to rake in the money... from mud

16/8/11   112915''Portsmouth International Port terminal''(  ferry port terminal )
16/8/11 112915''Portsmouth International Port terminal''( ferry port terminal )
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THEY say ‘where there’s muck there’s brass’.

Now port bosses might actually prove this to be true – by selling mud for cash.

Portsmouth International Port is looking at flogging what it dredges from the bottom of the harbour to firms to make bricks.

Port manager Martin Putman said: ‘It’s bad environmentally to dump it at sea, which we do at the moment, so we’re hoping there may be a way to sell it to someone who can use it.’

The port dredges the harbour on an irregular basis, such as when it intends to extend quays.

It spent £3.5m on dredging the harbour this year, with around 258,000 tonnes of mud scooped from the harbour floor.

It was dumped at sea, near the Nab Tower, off the Isle of Wight.

Many estuary harbours sell gravel and silt they have scooped, but Portsmouth’s dredging brings up material that is much harder to use.

But it’s hoped it could be sold in future for building purposes, potentially raising thousands of pounds.

Mr Putman said: ‘It costs us lots of money, and what we get is dumped at sea.

‘It’s a very stiff, very sticky clay-like substance. It’s so sticky we have had to modify our boats’ grabbers so it will come off them more easily.

‘But there’s the possibility it could be used for making bricks.

‘There’s a place in Antwerp that uses materials for building purposes.

‘But we’ll have to bid to research it further.

‘It may be it wouldn’t make us any money, because of transport costs, but it’s definitely something we want to look at.’

The port, which is owned by Portsmouth City Council, is also in discussions with counterparts from the city’s twin town Caen in France about potential European funding.

This includes bidding for cash for mutual advertising, and attempts to encourage people using both ports to stay longer in Portsmouth and Caen, bringing money to both.

Mr Putman said: ‘We’re looking at a number of things, and drawing up a list to send the EU in the hope of funding research.’