Because London offers the most diverse, successful, well-connected, well-equipped and service-oriented cluster of port facilities.
Because London is on the doorstep of the biggest consumer market in the UK.
And because, backing up the location, expertise, experience and range of facilities, the PLA offers an unrivalled portfolio of services – pilotage, vessel traffic services, marine services, hydrographic surveying, diving – which truly set it apart in a highly competitive market.
Operators looking at London can be sure of the very best support from the PLA, which will:
- Help shippers to find out which facilities and shipping lines match their needs and aspirations;
- Assist clients in experimenting with planned jetty extensions or the handling of larger ships in absolute safety on our advanced ship manoeuvring simulator;
- Offer the support of a dedicated hydrographic surveying team, equipped with some of the best kit in the business;
- Keep a close eye on environmental issues, which sit at the top of the agenda for the PLA;
- Support shippers in their “green” aspirations, with the advantage of a direct route – the Thames – into the heart of the busy London market.
The Port of London has not escaped the impact of the recession – throughput for 2009 was around 45 million tonnes, compared to 53 million tonnes in 2008. Volumes were sharply down at the start of 2009 but did improve and stabilise at a better level in the second half.
But despite this downturn, London still remains clearly the second most important UK port by volume – and there is no room for compromise. Safety and efficiency remain paramount and, in these times of crisis, the PLA understands that port users must be able to rely on the very best levels of service. With a smile, of course.
The Port of London Authority, which celebrated its centenary in 2009, is responsible for the safety of navigation along 95 miles of the tidal River Thames, from Teddington Lock to the estuary.
"As an organisation we clearly have a regulatory role – but we are also very much a service provider," says PLA chief executive Richard Everitt. "Our mission is to provide the best services while operating within that regulatory framework; we are continuously looking for ways in which we can improve our services."
In line with this, a key project has been the introduction of the PLA's PISCES system (Port Information System for Coordinating End-to-End Services) for managing port users' requests for services, particularly pilotage. By encouraging customers to submit their requests electronically via PISCES, the PLA is looking to establish a single, reliable source of information, in order to improve efficiency and reduce wasted effort for service providers within the Port.
In recognition of the difficult time being faced by shipping lines and other port users, the PLA will be freezing its charges for 2010.
And in another important development, the PLA has embarked on a revision of its Tug Code which may help cut costs for some port users.
The PLA also remains strongly committed to protecting the environment and wildlife on the Thames; its unique partnership with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is a clear demonstration of this.
And the Thames itself has an important role to play in the search for "green" solutions for transport and logistics. Where else in the UK can you find a free, uncongested "motorway" right to the centre of such a huge population?
About 2 million tonnes of cargo is carried up and down the river every year and this volume could treble in the next few years. The Crossrail project will generate enormous volumes of spoil and construction materials with movements of materials due to commence in late 2010.
Crossrail has signed an agreement with the PLA confirming its commitment to use barges and vessels to move more than 5 million tonnes of excavated materials out of London along the Thames. That is the equivalent of taking half a million lorry journeys off the roads.
The Thames Tideway tunnels project is also expected to make significant use of the river for removing spoil and importing construction materials.
And then there are the London Olympics; most of the major aggregates-related construction work for the event is near to completion – but next will come the fitting out and equipping stages. The materials and goods required for this are expected to boost container volumes, particularly into Tilbury Container Services, and there is an ideal opportunity to bring much of this to the Stratford site by water.
Along the Thames, the PLA remains committed to its policy of "safeguarded wharves" – as more and more shippers look for environmentally friendly supply chain solutions, these are the very facilities they will need.
2009 was a tough year for most and the challenging economic climate led to DP World's London Gateway container terminal being put "on hold". However, in October the European Commission's 3500m package of TEN-T funding, announced as part of its response to the economic crisis, included 314.17 million towards the dredging and reclamation works required for the new port.
And in January this year, DP World confirmed that the London Gateway development was ready to move forward once again.
During 2009, meanwhile, work had continued on the construction of a new jetty for Shell’s bitumen and aviation fuel imports, to replace the older jetty that will be demolished to make way for the container port. And other investments have continued at many facilities within the Port of London.
Doing the maths
The Port of London plays a vital role not just in the nation’s supply chains but also in the national and local economies.
Research completed by SQW Consulting and published in 2009 showed that:
The wide diversity of cargoes handled through London has been a particularly strong point in the current downturn, with the port not too heavily reliant on one sector. Equally, the jobs linked to the port are hugely varied, including manufacturing workers, cargo handlers, drivers, warehouse staff and ships’ agents.
CEMEX commissioned a new 1.2 million tonne capacity cement grinding and blending plant at the Port of Tilbury. This £49 million project, the largest in the UK cement industry for five years, increased CEMEX UK’s cement capacity by 20% and has positioned the group perfectly to serve major construction projects in the Thames Gateway.
At the Tate & Lyle Sugars’ Thames Refinery in Silvertown, one of the largest cane sugar refineries in the world, construction of a £20 million biomass boiler on the riverfront was completed, and a new crane commissioned.
Tilbury Container Services (TCS) is due to take delivery of two Liebherr super post-panamax cranes in the second quarter of 2010; preparation work for their arrival has included refurbishing two older panamax cranes and moving them from the riverside quay to the in-dock berth. TCS also took delivery of six new Kalmar straddle carriers last year (2009), one of which is a special environmentally friendly model now going through trials.
The Port of Tilbury has already invested £1.25 million in facilities for P&O Ferries, which has seen tremendous growth on its Tilbury-Zeebrugge ro-ro freight service, operated from inside the locks, since its launch in July 2007. Now the port is drawing up plans for a second riverside ro-ro berth, which would be used by P&O.
The PLA is trialling the catamaran Lambeth, a revolutionary new patrol boat built by Alnmaritec and part of a £2 million fleet upgrade programme.
The Port of London is strongly positioned, perfectly equipped – and ready for the upturn, when it comes.
(Article taken from the 2010 Port of London Handbook produced by Compass Publications. For copies please contact the PLA Corporate Affairs Team on 01474 562364, or please use this Enquiry Form.)