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Laing O’Rourke begins London Gateway dredging

A 100km long dredge has begun on the river Thames in London to allow the world’s biggest ships access to a major new port in the capital.

The dredger Rubens is being operated by Dredging International and marine works contractor for the new London Gateway port Laing O’Rourke. The port is being built on the north bank of the Thames near Stanford Le Hope in Essex by operator DP World.

A trailer hopper dredger will join cutter suction vessel Rubens in a month and dredging works will be going on for four years.

“We are dredging to -17m in the berth dock, -14.5m in the inner channel and -16.5m in the outer channel,” explained senior technical manager for London Gateway Andrew Bowen. Existing channel depth is 10m and width of the dredge is 300m.

“The opening of the port and the logistics park depends on market demand. We hope the world will be a better place by the time the port is completed.”

Simon Moore, London Gateway

London Gateway is concerned to preserve the marine environment, Bowen said. “We are using the most sophisticated water quality monitoring system in the world to ensure water quality is preserved throughout the dredge.”

The 30M.m³ of sand will be used as fill to create the new dock which involves moving the existing wall 3-400m out into the Thames. Laing O’Rourke’s £400M marine works contract includes dredging, reclamation and construction of a new quay wall.

“The contractor is currently piling for construction of a new jetty for the neighbouring Shell refinery so the existing one in the heart of the port site can be removed,” said London Gateway project engineer Peter Mason.

The first step

The £400M marine works contract is the first step in what could be a £1.5bn investment in the Gateway port which will include one of Europe’s largest logistics parks. “First we construct the port,” said London Gateway chief executive Simon Moore.

“That will take about three years. The opening of the port and the logistics park depends on market demand. We hope the world will be a better place by the time the port is completed.”

London Gateway will provide the UK with its first 21st century deep sea container port integrated with over 836km² of logistics space. The port will add an additional 3.5M TEU (Twenty Foot Equivalent Units) to the UK’s port capacity. It should also create 36,000 jobs.

It will also take 2,000 lorries off the roads by opening a port and distribution centre closer to the big UK consumption areas of London and the south east.

Start of construction of the port had been delayed because of the world recession and Dubai owned DP World’s struggle to raise necessary finance. DP World won planning permission for the development at the former Shell Haven oil refinery site in May 2007 after inheriting the project from P&O when it bought the group for £3.6bn in 2006.

Part of the planning deal was that DP would fund improvements to J30 on the M25 to the tune of around £100M. The upgrade is still on the table but won’t be considered until the port is closer to opening, a spokesman said.

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