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Gateway port developer seeks M25 funding get out

The developer of the £1.5bn London Gateway mega-port was this week attempting to talk ministers into removing one of the project’s key planning conditions.

It wants the government to drop a requirement for them to pay for the £100M upgrade of the M25’s junction 30 in Thurrock, Essex.

Planning permission for the port was only granted on condition that the developer paid to upgrade the junction with the A13, the main trunk road between London and the port.

Dubai-based port operator DP World is reviewing the scope of the London Gateway Port at Shellhaven in Essex following a fall in global shipping demand (NCE 26 February).

As part of this review the developer has asked the Department for Transport (DfT) and Department for Communities and Local Government to cut or scrap its commitment to the upgrade.

Under the terms of planning consent for the port, granted by the DfT in May 2007, DP World must fund the improvements, thought to cost around £100M.

The upgrade is intended to mitigate increased road freight traffic resulting from the port development.

The upgrade includes:

  • Traffic signal upgrades at junction 30 and a dedicated free flow
    left slip from the northbound M25 to the A13 eastbound
  • Improvements to the three-lane section of the A13’s westbound approach to junction 30
  • Three lane parallel collector distributor roads on either side of the A13
  • Associated two-lane slips
  • Widening of overbridges at the junction

It is understood that DP World is arguing that junction 30 of the M25 is one of national importance and that improvements should consequently be funded by the Highways Agency.

Last November the Agency launched a £7M study to investigate the best way to alleviate congestion at the junction.

A spokesman said the Agency was committed to improving the junction but refused to comment on whether DP World was renegotiating its funding commitments.

Thurrock Council transportation manager Ed Vokes said the council was aware that negotiations were taking place between DP World and the government, adding that they were at a very early stage.

“The Highways Agency has identified junction 30 as its single biggest priority in the Thames Gateway, so the improvement works will go ahead,” he added.

Last week the DfT confirmed that it was investigating three options to build a third Dartford Crossing.

One option, to connect the M25 north of the Thames Estuary to the M20 in Kent via a new link east of Tilbury in Essex, would reduce traffic congestion at junction 30 and remove the need for junction improvement works (see map).

A DP World spokesman told NCE that the developer was considering the proposals and would respond if the government put them up for consultation.

He refused to comment on whether DP World was seeking a reduction of its commitments to the junction, adding only: “DP World is undergoing a review for all major expansion projects and we will provide more information
as it becomes available.”

DP World’s review of construction on the 748ha London Gateway site is likely to delay its anticipated opening in early 2011.

The 2.3km-long container quay will have a capacity of 3.5M TEU (standard container units) a year, equivalent to the capacity of Felixstowe, the UK’s largest port.

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