SOUTHAMPTON City Council was the only local authority to back the Dibden Bay scheme.

This morning civic chiefs said the announcement was a massive blow to the local economy.

Speaking to the Daily Echo, council leader Councillor Adrian Vinson said: "This is very disappointing news both for Southampton and the south Hampshire economy.

"It's vital that everyone with an interest in the continued prosperity of the region works together with ABP to minimise the threat this decision poses to Southampton's status as one of Europe's, and indeed one of the world's, biggest ports.

"The effect of this will be felt far beyond the city and has the potential to harm economical developments in the widest sense.

"We will work with all the other regional organisations and bodies to see what can be done to create a positive path for the future."

Councillor John Slade, chairman of the Liberal Democrat group on the city council, chairman of planning committee and also a member of the Port Consultative Council, said: "I am very disappointed that the Dibden Bay container port has been rejected by the inspector as it will harm the wealth of this region.

"The prosperity of the city and port go hand-in-hand and this is a retrograde step that will seriously damage the port and the city when the new generation of even larger container ships come on stream and cannot use Southampton.

"This will force the owners of these ships to take their trade, all the on-shore support facilities and infrastructure needed to service these giant leviathans, and the wealth they generate, to Rotterdam or Antwerp."