HUGE BARGES will be built to take heavy construction plant and materials off the roads, in a new government initiative announced this week.
Shipping minister David Jamieson awarded a grant for an £8M multi-purpose pontoon (MPP) and the £500,000 conversion of a smaller vessel.
The unique MPP is 16.5m wide, 80m long and capable of carrying 1,200t loads that would otherwise choke up the road network.
The MPP can semi-submerse and allow a smaller 300t capacity vessel to float in. This is expected to lead to big savings in shipping costs as fewer journeys will be needed.
The MPP will be built by Dutch company Damen Shipyards Group, project managed by specialist heavy transport consultancy Robert Wynns & Sons.
'Because the MPP is inherently versatile, we are confident that we can meet any job offer from the construction industry, ' said Wynns managing director Peter Wynns.
A specially strengthened hull will allow the MPP to beach, and its hydraulic roadway and ballast system enables varying quay heights and riverbanks to be easily negotiated.