Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Two Thames Side Ports Extend Freight and Logistics Capability

Whilst Shadow Chancellor Visits Tilbury, London Gateway Development Steps Up a Gear
Shipping News Feature

UK – It is a busy time for London’s two major Thames side ports with a visit this week from Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon Ed Balls MP, accompanied by local Thurrock Labour candidate Polly Billington, both of whom were visiting the Port of Tilbury to be briefed on the role Tilbury plays in both local and national economy and the significant investments being made at the port by the port and its tenants, that will this year (2015), amounts to over £75 million, creating over 300 long term jobs as well as a number of short term construction jobs.

Meanwhile things continue apace downriver at the new deep water port of London Gateway, the ambitious scheme to attract the world’s largest container ships closer to the metropolis than ever before, making it the port of choice for customers currently using alternatives, even those on the close continent.

At Tilbury Mr Balls and Ms Billington were shown how the multimillion pound investment across the port, including the London Container Terminal, ensures the capability of handling over half a million containers each year, whilst the alliance between the port and S Walsh and Sons, the construction solutions specialist, is using water borne craft to relieve truck congestion on the Capital’s roads.

There was also time for the visitors to see the newly launched London Paper Terminal, which handles over 400,000 tonnes of paper products each year plus the new 70-acre distribution park on the outskirts of the port, the London Distribution Park, which has begun construction of its first 110,000 square foot bespoke warehouse. The park is described by owners of the Port of Tilbury, Forth Ports, as the largest speculative development on the market near London, a description which might well be disputed by owners of London Gateway, DP World.

London Distribution Park aims to bring as many as 1,100 jobs to the area and the Port of Tilbury was one of the first organisations to launch the Government’s new traineeship programme and supports the National Apprenticeship Service. The Port’s team is working with the Government to help design a funding model which will work through HMRC systems to route apprenticeship funding direct to employers in the future (Apprenticeship Reform Roundtable). In the last two years the Port has taken on 30 apprentices (5% of the workforce) with imminent plans to take on a further 15. The Shadow Chancellor commented:

"Tilbury is London's engine, supporting Britain's economic growth. The port is the UK's gateway to Europe. Our relationship with Europe is an important factor in ensuring the port thrives. The new investment in Tilbury Port will have a positive impact on the local economy, by boosting the number of skilled jobs and apprenticeships."

Meanwhile downriver London Gateway is concentrating efforts on its own logistics park, at nine million square feet overall the first stage of development in the form of the DP World London Gateway Logistics Centre, formerly referred to as the Common User Facility, will formally open in April or May. Management of the warehouse will be undertaken by Import Services Ltd. who operate similar facilities in Southampton.

The first stage including offices and warehouse area is around 150,000 and already has its first tenant, Westbound Shipping whose staff are settling in to offices in the Gate 2 building awaiting the opening of the physical facilities. When complete this first development will spread over 386,000 square feet. Last month container specialist Pentalver announced it had opened its own facility in the grounds of the Park.

On the 6th February the Chairman of Prologis will be present at London Gateway to dig the first spadeful of earth in what is literally a ground breaking ceremony for the company’s own 316,000 square foot facility. Prologis, with a global pedigree for the management of logistics developments are already actively marketing this their newest investment which is due to open in Q3 2015.

London Gateway can afford to concentrate on development of its logistics scheme based on a steady stream of enquiries from potential clients and as progress on the business of persuading ship operators to use the actual dock facilities seems to be proceeding well. Last weekend the arrival of the 13,100 TEU Maersk Edinburgh heralded the start of the Port’s busiest ever weekend in terms of containers handled.

Photo: Ed Balls with Perry Glading, chief operating officer for Forth Ports