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The Port of London – Looking ahead to a strong future

With much of the £770 million investment planned for the period 2003–2007 having already brought major improvements to the facilities in the Port of London, Simon Sherrard, Chairman of the Port of London Authority, thanked the port community for its “commitment and confidence”.

Speaking at the launch of the 2005 Port of London Handbook at the Greenwich Maritime Museum today (2 March), Mr Sherrard said that 2004 saw overall throughput in the Port rise by 4.4% to a total of 53.3 million tonnes – “our most successful year since 1998”.

“Each year the PLA Board visits various terminals to obtain first-hand knowledge of your businesses and the relationship you have with the PLA.  We value such meetings and are always impressed by your commitment and the confidence you show in the future of the Port through the amount you are investing.  I thank you for this loyalty,” he said.

“All this sends out healthy messages to the current and potential users of the Port that London is a vibrant and forward looking Port with a strong future.”

The highlights of the investment programme are:

  • the Stora Enso paper handling facility at Port of Tilbury
  • two further gantry cranes at Tilbury Container Services
  • the jetty extension for larger bulk carriers at Tilbury Power Station
  • introduction of straddle-carriers at Thames Europort
  • acquisitions of SEAS Holdings and Stanton Grove by Seacon Terminals
  • Van Dalen’s new scrap metal shredder at Dagenham Dock

Commenting on the proposed ‘London Gateway’ port project, Mr Sherrard explained that at the 2004 Handbook launch he had said the PLA was looking forward to the Secretary of State for Transport’s approval.  “We are still waiting.  We urge the Government to address this project as a matter of urgency as further delay will only exacerbate the shortage of container port capacity in the country to the detriment of our trading position.”

Welcoming the Mayor of London’s initiative on the ‘safeguarding’ of wharves, Mr Sherrard said this was crucial for the continued expansion of river cargo and recognises the importance of the Thames as an environmentally friendly thoroughfare into the heart of the capital.  Last year, almost 2.5 million tonnes of intra-port traffic being transported upriver, continuing the previous year’s growth.  This traffic would otherwise have been carried by road adding to congestion problems.

“We greatly welcomed the Mayor’s recommendation to Government to retain safeguarding on 25 wharves west of the Thames Barrier and proposing safeguarding of a further 25 wharves in London east of the Barrier.  This is excellent news and will ensure the Port’s key position as the natural gateway to the major markets of London and the south-east.”

Mr Sherrard voiced concern over the planned siting of Wind Farms in the Thames Estuary.  “Whilst we recognise the need to develop alternative sources of power generation, it is essential that these installations neither impede nor compromise safety, either directly or by interference to marine navigation and communication systems,” he said.

Turning to the PLA project to deepen the Port’s southern access through the Princes Channel, he said that hydrographic surveys had shown that the initial trial dredged depth has been maintained and that the PLA was keen to progress to the planned depth of eight metres. Since the trial dredge, the PLA has been actively looking for beneficial use of the dredge material, identifying various third-party projects which could see the work progressively undertaken over the next eighteen months.

For further information contact: Martin Garside, Port of London (Tel: 020 7743 7915)

Note to Editors:

  1. London is one of the top three ports in the UK and handles over 50 million tonnes of cargo each year. The Port of London comprises over 70 independently owned and operated terminals and port facilities, which handle a wide range of cargoes.
  2. The Port of London Authority is the port authority for 150km (95 miles) of the tidal Thames from the sea to Teddington. It provides navigational, pilotage and other services for ships using the Port of London.
  3. Photos of shipping activity in the Port of London are available on request.