DOUBTS have been cast over the future of a multi-million pound project after claims staff said it will never go ahead.

The £300million Bathside Bay project, in Harwich, would see the area turned into a container port terminal which could create more than 700 jobs.

The port would be able to handle some of the largest deep-sea container ships in the world and boost the local economy by about £50million a year.

Hutchison Ports applied for permission for the development in 2003, it was approved after a public inquiry in 2006 and later given a time extension to push back work until 2021.

Work would see a new container port built, the construction of a small boat harbour and a listed train ferry gantry restored.

When completed Harwich International Port would be double the size and be one of the most important ports in the country.

But fears were raised at Harwich Town Council’s meeting on Monday, that the project will be too expensive to be carried out.

Harwich Town councillor Alan Todd claims he brought up the Bathside Bay project at a Merchant Navy Welfare Board Meeting in Felixstowe, on July 12.

He said a member of staff at Felixstowe Port agreed that the scheme will not go ahead.

Alan added: “I was told the reason it will not go ahead is because they have done a feasibility study on the crane and it will cost a fortune to dredge the area.

“They would have to re-dredge it all the time and therefore it does not become feasible.”

He claims a feasibility study was taken about restoring the gantry crane which would cost £2million, but figures on the cost of dredging were not revealed.

A Hutchison Ports spokesman has denied the project will not go ahead.

He added: “There are no changes to the project.”

Harwich Town Council agreed to write a letter to Hutchison Ports for confirmation the project will still be going ahead.