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Super port - friend or foe?

Posted on by Faye

Super port - friend or foe?

By the end of this year, the new £1.5 billion London Gateway deep sea container port development will be finished, but what implications will this have on logistics in the UK?

From a logistics perspective, a new super port in the south east appears to have a number of advantages. It will deliver logistics space that’s fit for purpose and future-proofed for some time and being just 25 miles from the capital, gives easy access to more than 16 million consumers in London and the south east which can only be a good thing.

With six deep sea container berths, 24 quay cranes and nine million square feet of Logistics Park this will of course be a significant operation; 12,000 new jobs are expected to be created for example. London Gateway will also bring environmental benefits with the anticipation that 30 per cent of outbound traffic will move to trains. The increase in deep sea container capacity will make it easier to contain high volume container ships on the 2.7km River Thames port and improve the UK’s economy as a result. In addition the port could lend itself to coastal shipping. These plans are being developed 25 miles from the centre of London on a 1,500 acre disused Brownfield site, another tick in the box of being environmentally friendly!

There is always a flip side to every silver lining. Road connections will allow easy access to the M25 and major trunk routes, but because of this, congestion is a possibility on road and rail links in and out of London. Other considerations that need to be taken into account include the fact that shipping lines, logistics service providers and end users all have existing infrastructure built around the traditional port operations of Felixstowe and Southampton, and existing warehousing infrastructure across the country. Any significant changes to these traditional processes are likely to incur costs and risks that need to be considered.

For many years, warehousing and fulfilment operations have traditionally been located in the Midlands. These locations provide the best balance in terms of proximity to key population densities, transport infrastructure and costs, availability and cost of land and availability and cost of labour. Existing operations already successfully service not only the 16 million consumers in the South East, but also the 50+ million consumers in the rest of the UK. How does London Gateway affect these variables and does it provide benefits over existing operations?

Despite the recession, this new development could offer brand owners, importers and retailers a huge opportunity to restructure their supply chains for the better. Only time will tell if this bold development will pay off……

Key facts and figures on London Gateway
• 25 miles from London
• 1,500 acre disused brownfield site
• 12,000 new jobs expected
• 2.7km-long River Thames frontage
• 6 berths
• 24 quay cranes

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