With its major ports, Thurrock, which lies to the north of the River Thames, is home to key UK logistics and distribution centres, which add millions of pounds to the local economy and boost the UK's trade operations. They are also vital to the area's growth and development, as Sarah Herbert finds out
Of all UK imports, 95% come in by sea. That's around 480 million tonnes of freight, either as bulk goods or in about six million containers, which are either driven on and off on lorries (roll-on roll-off, or 'ro-ro') or lifted on and off by cranes ('lo-lo'). In return we also export about 180 million tonnes of goods. The container shipping industry has undergone great change in the past decade.
Ships now transport 20,000 vast containers (known as 20-foot equivalent units), each capable of holding 48,000 bananas or 400 flat screen TVs. These huge new ships, which are 400m long and 59m wide and go 16m below the surface of the water, pose great challenges to ports that need ever bigger and longer berths, bigger cranes, larger yards and more sophisticated IT systems.
Thurrock’s position in the UK – near Europe, and the country’s most populous city and counties – means it is home to three of the busiest ports in the UK, with all the associated transport, logistics, catering, and other ancillary services. DP World’s London Gateway Port is connected to more than 110 ports in over 60 countries.
It is capable of hosting the world's largest ships in its three deep-water berths, with 12 of the world’s largest shipto- shore quay cranes, 60 automated/robotic container stacking cranes and a 775m-long international rail terminal – the UK’s largest. An extra three deep-water container berths could also be developed, providing 1,250m of quayside, 12 more quay cranes and 60 automated stacking cranes, taking the port’s annual throughput capacity to 3.5 million 20-foot equivalent unit containers.
But it is not just a deep-water port. It is also a fully integrated logistics facility, with an expansive area for warehousing, distribution and logistics services. The Logistics Park, a development space of around 860,000sq m for warehouse, distribution and logistics services, is currently home to UPS, Dixons Carphone, Lidl and SH Pratt Group, one of Europe's leading fruit importers, which is taking a lease on a 10,085sq m bespoke temperature-controlled facility from mid-2018.
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