Threat to London float of US port

THE commercial prospects for Port Benicia, a private American harbour seeking a listing on the London Stock Exchange, could be severely damaged by local pressure groups.

The company, which hopes to raise pounds 15.2m in its flotation on 28 June, has outraged many residents of the city of Benicia, 30 miles north of San Francisco in California, with a scheme to lease land to a $15m (pounds 10m) petroleum coke handling and export facility. Members of a citizens' action group, Benicians Against Domes (Bad), hope to block the project either through the planning process or by changing the zoning and land use regulations, which are currently under review.

Many of Benicia's 25,000 citizens fear the facility's six 100-ft high silos will mar the skyline in a designated historic site that dates back to the American Civil War more than a century ago.

They are also concerned about the environmental impact of the plan and are calling for a detailed review.

Some 1,500 have signed a petition since January calling for the land to be rezoned, and lawyers are looking into other ways to block the project.

Allan Andrew, a property lawyer and spokesman for Bad, who owns land near the port, said the project, which was due to be completed within a year, could be tied up in the approval process for at least that time. "Various ex-officials and current members of the civic government, including the former mayor, are questioning whether it is allowed," he said.

According to the pathfinder prospectus published in London as part of the flotation, the coke plant proposed by tenants Koch Industries and Hall-Buck Marine would lead to a "significant expansion" away from the port's traditional business of importing cars and trucks from Japan. Phillip Plant, the chief operating officer, dismissed the opposition.

Mr Plant was in the UK last week with his executive chairman, Timothy Chadwick, promoting the new issue to institutional investors, and he claimed that it was a routine matter to get planning approval in the US.

"We have no concern that it is the proper zoning. There is no restriction on the type of bulk cargo we can move," he said, adding that the port already had a petroleum coke facility on the site to supply steel makers around the Pacific.

Its London stockbroker, Greig, Middleton & Company , was unaware of the opposition and referred to getting the planning approvals "rubber stamped". The company's briefing document for investors says that the project is "subject to certain consents".

The Port of Benicia occupies former military land. It is now the largest port-related industrial complex on the Californian coast.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'