Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thames Super Port Gets Cash To Fund DP World Container Terminal Access

Funds from Europe Available for Controversial Dredging Operation
Shipping News Feature

UK – The proposed DP World London Gateway container port received a boost this week when East of England Regional Assembly and East of England Development Agency announced that £12.7 million has been made available to fund the deepening of the Thames estuary to allow access for the largest of container ships. The cash comes from TEN-T Trans-European Transport Network whose purpose is to establish a single cohesive multi modal European transport infrastructure. Approval for the new £400 million port, with a scheduled throughput of 3.5 million TEU’s per annum, was given in 2006 but since then the world has turned.

There are strong local objections to the new proposals. A spokesman for local fishing interests says the dredging will cause irreparable damage to valuable local fish species. The Thames has witnessed a remarkable recovery in fish stocks over past years and Mr Paul Gilson, whose family have fished the area for generations, spoke to the Handy Shipping Guide to say,

“They are pushing on with the dredging regardless of the changed economic situation. They are throwing £12 million pounds into a hole in the seabed for which there are no guarantees and the money could be better spent elsewhere. In a judgement owing much to Disney, as in Finding Nemo, the enquiry judge ruled the fish would learn to avoid the area.

“We have no objection to building the port whatsoever but there are better ways forward than destroying the nursery areas of sole and other valuable fish stocks. We were promised support from the Environment Agency but that evaporated at the last minute.”

Despite dredging apparently about to start signs for the actual commencement of construction are not good. A spokesman for DP World has been reported as saying that financing of the scheme was still “Under consideration”.

“We submitted the bid in May and were one of three successful bids. The money is earmarked for work relating to the reclamation of the quay wall and the dredging operation and will not be used for compensation for the fishermen.” he said.

Locals are not currently seeking compensation just an assurance that destruction of a valuable environmental site will not take place until full implementation of the scheme is assured with finance and final plans in place.

The development is scheduled for construction on the sites of the former oil refineries at Coryton and Shell Haven. Tankers have traditionally used the area but the channel needs widening and deepening to accommodate today’s new super sized container carriers.

Pic. Fishing Barge Thames Estuary courtesy JS.