Felixstowe Coast


Felixstowe

Series exploring Britain's coastline. Neil Oliver visits Britain's largest container port.


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Transcript


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This stretch of coast has seen repeated waves of tribal settlers

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that have helped forge our national identity.

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Saxons, Jutes, Vikings, Danes.

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They all came here, you know?

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And they were so impressed, they all decided to stay.

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But our ancestors never got round to colonising this headland.

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Until recently, it was mostly a marsh.

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But now it's Felixstowe.

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The UK's largest container port.

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I'm going to see what one of those is all about.

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95% of the goods we consume on our island, arrive here by sea.

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When you're shopping, it's odds on you're buying stuff

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that came here by ship, in boxes like these.

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In all, 40% of Britain's trade comes through THIS port.

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Much of that trade once flowed through London,

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but it moved here because Felixstowe can take bigger ships.

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These containers come from every corner of the world.

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There are about 6,000 of them on that ship alone

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and on the biggest vessels, there are up to 10,000 containers.

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Each crane must unload a box every minute, day and night.

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Felixstowe handles nearly 2 million containers per year.

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Some of the contents aren't always what they appear.

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Stopping smugglers using any one of these incoming boxes is a herculean task.

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How on earth do they do it?

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Hi, Kevin.

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Kevin Sayer's one of the few people with the power to open any box.

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Our first container has come from Africa.

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It's suspicious, but they won't say why.

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Is that typical, that load there?

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Because it looks so completely harmless.

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Yeah, indeed.

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Very often that's what the criminals and smugglers are trading on.

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They want their consignment to look as legitimate as possible,

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so it evades our controls.

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It does seem a bit odd that it's only half-full.

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-Kevin!

-Do you want to come have a look at this?

-OK.

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-There's something inside?

-The X-ray shows a dark block within the image.

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It's a black bin liner, Kevin.

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Absolutely.

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It's coming out. It's coming out.

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It sounds heavy.

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It made a sort of a "thud" there.

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-Yeah.

-Maybe it's just the latest Wilbur Smith?

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A bin liner within a bin liner.

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Oh, that even looks suspicious to me.

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This looks like cannabis resin.

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That looks like cannabis. Look at that!

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I can't believe it. You've set this up, haven't you?

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You've done this for me.

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I wish we could have arranged it so well.

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Is the whole cargo now officially dodgy gear?

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The whole cargo will will effectively be forfeit.

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We use a historic phrase, "forfeit to the crown".

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What's the Queen going to do with that?

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Ah, well, we work on behalf of the Queen. It now becomes her property.

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I'm gonna go away from this with a very skewed idea of your job.

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-It's gonna look like this stuff's popping out of every case.

-It's so easy.

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It turned out that our very first container actually had cocaine in it.

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Street value - £80,000.

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And that's just a drop in the ocean.

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Last year, customs seized 4.9 tonnes of the stuff at out frontiers.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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