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Govt Adopts Zoning Plan Expanding Koper Port

Ljubljana/Koper, 16 June (STA) - The government adopted on Thursday the long-awaited zoning plan for Luka Koper, Slovenia sole industrial port, envisaging an expansion of the port's surface area from 280 to 404 hectares, among other things.

The ever stronger transition of cargo transport from roads to the seas requires a timely and consistent expansion of the commercial port in Koper, the government said in a press release.

According to the government, the importance of the port goes beyond Koper, the region and Slovenia as a whole, being mentioned in EU documents as one of the access points of the Fifth Pan-European Corridor in connection to the maritime transport corridor.

The port's operator, which is in majority state ownership, welcomed the adoption of the plan, describing it as "the main spatial document that will enable the development of the Koper port and strengthen its competitiveness".

While pointing to the expansion to 404 hectares, Luka Koper also highlighted an increase in the port's annual transshipment capacity to around 35 tonnes. The figure stood at around 15 tonnes in recent years.

The operator moreover pointed out that it had spent around EUR 3m for expert studies since the zoning plan started being drawn up in 2006.

It announced that "cargo that is profitable and environment friendly" will be given priority in plans for infrastructural investments.

According to Luka Koper, the plan is "the result of a broad compromise between the needs of the port, legislative requirements and the wishes of the local community".

The operator's chairman Gregor Veselko told the STA that the plan would serve "as the basis for the development of the port for the coming 30 to 40 years".

"This in effect means that we will now be able to discuss with our business partners - the existing ones and potentially new ones - how to align our strategies."

However, Veselko added that maximising the opportunities provided by the plan will also require the development of the railways infrastructure.

"The third pier and the expansion of container and other forms of transport will depend significantly on the development and capacities of the infrastructure in the hinterland. This in a way goes hand in hand."

Veselko meanwhile did not wish to comment on the possible consequences for the port of Monday's decision of the Constitutional Court that Ankaran - so far a part of the municipality of Koper and host to a significant part of the Koper port and the major part of the extended section - be set up as a separate municipality.

The head of the initiative for the independence of Ankaran Gregor Strmcnik said after the court's ruling that the state will have to lend and ear to Ankaran's grievances when adopting the zoning plan for the port.

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