The Port of Belfast’s £630m 20-year expansion project was unveiled yesterday. The Independent

The plan to reclaim 120 acres of land from Belfast Lough to provide extra quays, berths and deeper channels was announced as an economic report showed that around 25% of jobs in Northern Ireland were supported by port activity.

Last year the port handled more than 60% of Northern Ireland's imports and exports worth £19.5bn.

Roy Adair, the port's chief executive, said: ‘Economic growth means that the current port land resources will be exhausted and it is for this reason that we plan to reclaim 120 acres from Belfast Lough. The land will support an additional 6km of quayside.’

The report, produced by a London-based consultancy, forecasts that the Port of Belfast will need to invest heavily by 2025 to cater to a predicted doubling of traffic, if Northern Ireland is to match economic activity in the rest of the UK.

The research estimates that the port and its related activities support around 187,000 jobs – 27% of the total workforce and 31% of the region's economic value.