After Five Years, London Gateway Gets Go-Ahead

An artist's impression of the London Gateway development on the River Thames. An artist's impression of the London Gateway development on the River Thames.

The British Government has finally granted planning permission for the most significant development in the Port of London for over a century.

London Gateway port, when fully developed, will comprise up to seven container vessel berths and a ro-ro facility along 2.7km of quayside on the site of the former Shell oil refinery at Shellhaven in the borough of Thurrock, Essex. The planned adjoining commercial and logistics centre will utilise the rest of the landside, brownfield site of the decommissioned oil refinery.

Transport Minister Gillian Merron has gave final approval at the end of last month following agreement between the Port promoters, P&O (part of Dubai Ports World) and local planning and highway authorities to ensure that the impact of the full development on the local area highway network is adequately catered for. The Department for Communities and Local Government simultaneously granted planning permission for the adjacent London Gateway logistics and commercial centre and Business Park on the Shellhaven site.

Commenting on the decision Gillian Merron said, 'London Gateway will be able to provide much needed capacity for handling the UK's growing international trade in containers.This substantial development has the potential to provide many new jobs in the Thames Gateway Growth Area, already one of the Government's priority growth areas in England, including a possible 1,900 jobs which the promoters forecast for the port alone. It has taken time to finalise this decision. But it was right to consider carefully, and make appropriate provision for, the significant impacts that this major development will have in the growth area.'

P&O applied to the Department for Transport for a Harbour Empowerment Order in 2002 to establish a new harbour authority and construct a deep water container port on the north bank of the Thames estuary. P&O in partnership with Shell also applied to the local planning authority for planning permission to develop an adjacent logistics centre and business park. The promoters' appeal against non-determination by the planning authority was considered by the then Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. P&O was acquired in 2006 by Dubai Ports World, which has continued to take the project forward.

The project's promoters have reached agreements, in different forms, with Thurrock Council, Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation and Essex County Council. This has enabled the Government to give final approval to the project as stages of the development are now firmly linked to delivery of highway infrastructure enhancements.

The Port of London Authority (PLA) which is responsible for the tidal Thames was understandably happy with the news, which heralds major long term dredging and marine construction works on and approaching a site just 20 miles from central London, which is strategically close to major markets in the populous south east of England.

PLA chairman, Simon Sherrard, said, 'I am delighted that the Government has finally given the go ahead for this vitally important project. It is set to be the biggest development in the Port of London for over a hundred years. It will enable London to regain its traditional place as the UK's leading port.

'London Gateway will give the UK the additional container handling capacity it so clearly needs, making the movement of cargoes as efficient as possible in a global world to the ultimate benefit of consumers. As a project it has strong sustainable development credentials, bringing a brownfield site back into use and creating jobs as an integral part of the Government's landmark Thames Gateway vision.

'With our responsibilities for safety of navigation, licensing of dredging and other aspects of environmental management, we will now be taking time to study the detail of the decision and the conditions it includes. We are looking forward to working with DP World over the coming years over these and other practical aspects of the development of the London Gateway scheme.'

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