Ferry companies have lost a long-running battle over charges at Dover Eastern Docks after a Government report came out in favour of Dover Harbour Board. P&O Ferries, DFDS and former operator SeaFrance argued they were being forced to pay higher charges to fund the planned second Dover ferry terminal but learned this is now not an immediate priority due to privatisation plans and the recession. They claimed cash was instead being set aside for the Harbour Board’s pension fund deficit to smooth the path towards privatisation.

P&O spokesman Brian Rees said: ‘We are naturally very disappointed at the outcome and believe the Section 31 appeals process is archaic and is in urgent need of reform. We knew it would be difficult to gain relief via this mechanism but we had no option due to the unwillingness of Dover Harbour Board to consider our viewpoint.’

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