MAJOR works are to be carried out to the Wirral dock connecting Merseyside with Northern Ireland, as a scheme to accommodate bigger ferries is completed.

It will involve a new fixed bridge built to connect the 12 Quays Ferry Terminal in Birkenhead with larger 'new generation' ships being introduced by Stena Line.

The port between East Float and the River Mersey is the only one connecting Liverpool with Belfast, and the plans will also see an upper deck extension to the existing pontoon – the platform from which cars board the boats.

The new bridge will have two lanes, and is being built to accommodate the new ferries that will have two decks for vehicles and a capacity of 200.

The current ferries hold just 150 across a single deck, and are said to be 'reaching the end of their operational life.'

Two new 'roll on-roll off' boats are currently under construction, and due to be in use from September next year.

The application by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company Ltd was submitted last month, and the extent of any disruption to services caused by the work is as yet unknown.

The design and access statement to accompany the application said: “The proposed development is entirely appropriate in its context, and is necessary to safeguard the continued operation of ferries from the 12 Quays ferry terminal.

"The site is an existing Ro Ro (roll on-roll off) ferry deck which together with the wider site has operated as a ferry terminal for over 15 years.

“Only a small proportion of the works required are dependent upon planning permission being granted, and it is demonstrated that the proposed development is entirely consistent with the Development Plan having regard to material considerations.

"There will be no negative effects from the proposed development on either the natural or built environment.”