November 2013 could mark the turning point in how people import goods from China to the UK. This week a 58,000-tonne container ship from South Africa will be the first scheduled to dock at London Gateway, the new deep-sea container port on the banks of the River Thames.
It has taken £1.5bn of investment, 100km of dredging and the relocation of 350,000 animals from the three square miles of derelict land to get to this point. Their quay cranes are the biggest in the world, each weighing nearly 2,000 tonnes and standing at 137m tall, they are higher than both the arch of Wembley Stadium and the London Eye. London Gateway really means business and by April 2015 they’ll have three berths capable of taking the biggest container ships in the world.
Since Roman times the river Thames had been a national hub for importing goods from overseas but as the ships have got bigger that reputation has taken a massive knock. Down but not out London Gateway is positioning itself for a fight. Felixstowe and Southampton have established themselves as the only two ports in the UK with the capability to accept these monsters of the sea.
Aiming to take Felixstowe’s title of Britain’s largest container port, which last year handled over 40% of the UK’s container traffic, London Gateway seems to be out gunning its competitors at every turn. Not only are their cranes bigger, they’ll have more deep water berths, better technology and the adjacent land is to be developed into the largest logistics park in Europe.
With over 90% of the UK’s imports entering the country by sea, London Gateway’s ability to accommodate the biggest ships on the planet brings more fierce competition. This will surely be a good thing when it comes to importing goods from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and all other major manufacturing hubs. Not only for freight rates and the quality of service offered, but eventually, all of us buying these products will see the benefits.
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