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Port of London highlights vital role of River Thames

Port of London highlights vital role of River Thames
The importance of the River Thames as both economic asset and public amenity is being underscored today by the Port of London Authority (PLA) at one of the opening events of London International Shipping Week.

At a breakfast briefing PLA is unveiling the findings of two new reports compiled by independent analysts: ‘The River Thames’ Economic Prosperity’ by SQW, and ‘Adding Value: The River Thames’ Public Amenity’ by Oxford Economics.

The reports have been commissioned by the PLA - the body responsible for navigational, safety and related matters on 95 miles of the tidal river stretching from the sea to west London – to help it draw up a long-term “Thames Vision” plan for a sustainable future for the waterway.

The Thames hosts over 70 independently owned and operated terminals and port facilities along its length, the PLA points out, including major facility Port of Tilbury, run by the Forth Ports group, and DP World’s new London Gateway. Combined cargo trade at the different terminals grew by 3% in 2014 to reach 44.5m tonnes, making London the UK’s second largest port (behind Grimsby & Immingham) and the Thames the UK’s busiest inland waterway.

‘Trade is now growing strongly on the busiest and most diverse river in the UK,’ commented PLA chief executive Robin Mortimer when announcing the traffic results earlier this year. The growth came across all cargo types – oil, containers and building materials, he added.

Port of Tilbury is London’s major port handling a wide range of cargoes including paper and forest products, containers, ro-ro, grain and dry bulk plus general cargo. Its London Container Terminal (LCT) is the country’s third largest box terminal (behind Felixstowe and Southampton) handling over half a million containers a year, and it recently added a new weekly call by CMA CGM as part of the French line’s service between Northern Europe and West Africa.

Meanwhile, DP World’s London Gateway, which opened in November 2013, is the country’s youngest container terminal and continues to attract new customers. The weekly MSC Australia-Express Service began calling in August, joining the same company’s South Africa service that already calls the terminal.