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Last Updated: Monday, 22 March, 2004, 14:32 GMT
Airbus in Liverpool docks talks
Liverpool's waterfront
Airbus has been in talks with the Liverpool docks
Airbus has been in talks with the Port of Liverpool to discuss using the docks to transport their superjumbo wings to France.

The aerospace giant's 11bn deal has been called into question after the Environment Agency refused the Port of Mostyn permission to dredge the Dee Estuary.

Without dredging, barges are unable to access Mostyn docks all the time.

However, Liverpool could act as a back up for the shipments.

We've been in discussions with Aerospace since 2001 about this project and the wings could go from Liverpool
Eric Leatherbarrow MDHB

The issue of dredging the estuary became high profile after Welsh Secretary Peter Hain and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott argued it would hit the region's economy if it did not go ahead. Thousands are employed making the aircraft wings.

Eric Leatherbarrow from Liverpool's Mersey Docks and Harbour Board (MDHB) said they have been in talks with Airbus for some time.

"There's a great deal of hype going on," he said.

"We've been in discussions with Airbus since 2001 about this project and the wings could go from Liverpool.

He said the advantage of Liverpool was that it was a 24 hour port and the 'mothership' needed to carry the Airbus wings could get in at anytime.

"There's no question of Broughton being threatened if this dredging doesn't go ahead. The boat can get in to Mostyn but on limited tidal range."

Mostyn Docks
Bosses at Mostyn Docks want dredging to go ahead

Airbus spokesman Howard Berry confirmed that the company has talked to the Liverpool port authority.

"We did talk to them, but the truth is that to go out of Liverpool we'd need to go to sea which the barge could not do.

"We've talked to them to see if we could use it as a back up but it's not an alternative option," he added.

The first shipment of the Airbus wings from their plant in Broughton to France and the eventual European HQ of the firm at Toulouse is due next month.

Wildlife recorder Mike Griffiths said he believed staff knew the deal would go ahead one way or another.

"Plan A is for the wings to go from Mostyn and plan B is that they will go from Broughton to Liverpool or Birkenhead.

"One way or another they will go. There are no jobs at risk," he added.

Earlier this month the Environment Agency refused dredging permission for the Port of Mostyn to dredge the sea bed.

They are looking at alternative arrangements but Mr Griffiths, who records wildlife in the Dee Estuary, does not want them to dredge the bed.

"Mustard gas was thrown overboard after World War II and has gone to the mouth of the estuary," he said.

"If this is dislodged it'll have a major impact on wildlife.

"Divers have gone down to look for this waste - the estuary is littered by these bombs.

"If it's disturbed and comes ashore at Rhyl, Prestatyn and Llandudno, all the beaches could end up polluted," he added.

Dredging threat to Airbus deal
03 Mar 04  |  North East Wales
Mostyn ferry service axed
01 Mar 04  |  North East Wales
Mostyn dock wins P&O contract
06 Nov 01  |  Wales
Wings to go by land and sea
06 Feb 02  |  Wales
Ministers pledge Airbus support
05 Mar 04  |  North East Wales

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