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THE £1.5billion London Gateway superport is on schedule to open next year.
The transformation of the former Shell oil refinery site at Coryton into a giant port and warehouse distribution centre is progressing well, its owner says.
Key contracts have been signed, employment is gathering pace, construction work is on target and awards are already being won, says Developer DP World.
The global marine terminal owner and operator, aims to open the deep sea port’s first phase by the end of next year, with several companies already expressing an interest in moving to the adjoining logistics park.
Billed as Britain’s most important port development in two decades, the aim of London Gateway is to take lorries off the roads by siting importers’ distribution centres right next to the berths where the ships are unloaded.
By integrating the container port with a 9.5million sq ft logistics park, goods can sorted and sent straight to shops and suppliers from the port, without the need to truck them elsewhere first.
New railway sidings with links to the rest of the UK are also being built, with a third of the port’s cargo expected to be moved by rail.
The port will also seek to attract more shipping to the UK by offering a place where cargo can be transferred directly from giant container ships to smaller ships which can dock at smaller ports around the country.
London Gateway chief executive Simon Moore said: “Work is progressing rapidly. Balfour Beatty, our contractor, has started to develop the rail infrastructure.
“London Gateway is the best location for logistics in the UK and we are progressing on time and on schedule.
“We are now speaking to cargo owners and haulage firms so they can get ready for London Gateway’s opening next year.
Work is well under way on the quay wall, where giant ships will dock, with 600 workers employed around the clock to complete it.
The quayside should be paved over the next few months, with eight giant cranes which will load and unload the ships due to arrive from China by the end of the year.
The cranes – claimed to be the biggest of their kind in the world – will take six weeks to be shipped from ZPMC, the Shanghai-based company building them, using a specially-built vessel.
Mr Moore added: “The quay wall was built on dry land and is now having the sand excavated in front of it to expose it to the Thames. The first berth is being prepared for paving this summer.”
The site of the logistics park is being cleared and while no one will say which companies are likely to open warehouses there, London Gateway says it is in talks with several companies.
Companies which do come to London Gateway will have the chance to build vast warehouses covering more than a million square feet, with planning permission already granted so progress should be swift and easy.
DP World is bankrolling the entire project, with support from international banks, and its team has won a series of prestigious financial awards for its acumen.
Mr Moore added: “London Gateway is one of the largest job creation projects in the country.
“Directly and indirectly, more than 36,000 jobs are expected to come from our development, helping bolster the local and national economy