A FIFTH cruise terminal in Southampton would boost the local economy by £150m a year, the Daily Echo can reveal.

Port bosses, who were today due to confirm the scheme, first revealed by the Daily Echo in July, say it could see 90 extra cruise ships and half a million new passengers coming to the city.

It is also thought the development could create hundreds of new jobs.

Today Associated British Ports (ABP) chiefs Peter Jones and Doug Morrison were due to unveil the plans, worth upwards of £30m, to junior transport minister Mike Penning in Southampton.

Mr Morrison said: “We don’t see business grow and then think we had better build something to deal with it. This is about future growth.

“This will be good for the people who live in South-ampton and the people who come in because of the ships.

“The city is known all over the world for the docks and I think the people of Southampton are and have a right to be proud of it.”

The Daily Echo revealed in July that behind the scenes discussions for the new terminal in Western Docks were under way due to soaring passenger numbers.

This year there will be more than 300 separate calls by cruise ships and this is expected to rise to 360 next year hitting as high as 450 by 2015 when it will be dealing with more so-called mega-cruise ships.

Passenger numbers have trebled from 500,000 in 2004 to almost 1.5m and this is expected to reach 2m by 2020.

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It will be built on the Fruit Terminal but bosses say as the shipments, predominantly tomatoes, come in during the winter months and the cruise business peaks in summer the two can work side by side.

Council and business bosses have praised the plans.

Southampton City Council leader Royston Smith said: “The docks puts Southampton firmly on the map.

“These plans underscore our position as the cruise capital of northern Europe and puts us right up there as one of the top cities in the country.

“The company wouldn’t be investing these sums of money if they were not confident about the future of the Southampton cruise industry.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Hampshire Chamber of Commerce planning and transport boss Nick Farthing.

He said: “A fifth cruise terminal is most welcome news for the city’s economy.

“The Chamber of Commerce was set up in Southampton some 160 years ago to support the development of the port and today Hampshire Chamber of Commerce recognises ABP’s role and the Port of Southampton as a major driver for the county’s economy.”

Work is expected to start at the end of next year and be completed by 2013.