FOUR CONSORTIA have submitted bids to design and build Britain's biggest container port on the north bank of the Thames Estuary in Essex, developer P&O confirmed this week.
Three of the four consortia bidding for the ú1.5bn ($2.7bn) project on the site of the former Shell Haven oil refinery are led by UK contractors.
They are Laing O'Rourke, Nuttall and Costain. Chinese mega-contractor China Harbour has also submitted a bid.
P&O has moved ahead after transport minister Derek Twigg said in July that he was 'minded' to approve the project in July).
Final approval from transport secretary Alistair Darling hinges on the contribution P&O is willing to make towards upgrading road infrastructure around the site and leading onto the M25.
Project director Doug Oakervee said P&O's consultants were working with the Highways Agency and making good progress. He said that some proposals had already gone to Darling and that he hoped to get full approval by the end of December.
Design and build contractors are expected to be named following a P&O board meeting on 1 December.