London Gateway Port ICE meeting

On 14th September I was at the first evening meeting of the Institution of Civil Engineers 2010/11 session organised by the Essex Branch of the ICE.  Coincidentally I was the organiser of said meeting and I am also Chairman of the Essex Branch committee. 

The meeting was on the subject of the new port and logistics park development currently under construction on the site of the old Shell Haven oil refinery near Coryton in South Essex.  The client is DP World London Gateway – part of the DP World group.  The meeting was hosted at DP World London Gateway’s office on the site and given by senior members of the client project team.

London Gateway will be the first deep-sea container port built in the UK for 25 years. When complete, it will be the most technically advanced in the world, handling an estimated 3.5 million containers per year, along a newly constructed 1.2km quay. The development also boasts Europe’s largest logistics park.

Situated on the River Thames near Thurrock in Essex, the port will provide unrivalled access for the world’s leading businesses to an integrated road, rail and sea network.

London Gateway will change the way millions of consumer goods are transported around the country. By integrating the new container port with a logistics park, many everyday goods will be sent to the nation’s shops without having to be driven to distribution centres, often located hundreds of miles inland.

Instead, goods will go straight to the adjacent logistics park to be sorted and sent direct to shops. By reducing the need for the goods to travel inland, the project will save 2,000 trucks from the UK’s highways every day.  The project is set to be the largest creator of new jobs in the UK, delivering over 12,000 in the coming years. At launch it was the largest capital investment initiative in the UK.

Visualisation of the new port and logistics park


 DP World London Gateway Engingineering Director Mr Tim Bismire opened the meeting with an introduction to the project as a whole – describing the facilities as a truly ‘port centric’ development with road, rail and sea transport hubs in one place alongside the UK’s largest logistics park.  Mr Bismire based his presentation around an impressive visulisation movie that can be viewed by clicking on the image below. 

Mr Bismire paused the movie in several places and elaborated on some of the cutting edge port technology which will be a feature of the port facilities.

Link to visualisation movie on

DP World London Gateway Senior Engineering Manager Maritime Mr David Lind then provided an update on the ongoing construction works supported by progress photographs followed by some details of future works. 

The works are being undertaken on a design and build basis by main contractor joint venture between  Laing O’Rourke and Dredging International (LORDI).  Ovenden Earthmoving have a subcontract package for rock armour protection works and Bachy Soletanche for diaphragm wall installation.

Enabling works for the quay walls includes the removal of a number of redundant jetties and relocation of a jetty serving a fuel offloading facility which connects to the adjacent site tank farm via a pipeline bisecting the proposed port quays.  A new jetty is nearing completion at the east end of the site which will soon be fitted out with mechanical and electrical equipment and pipelines which – following commissioning – will allow the old jetty to be removed which will allow the fisrt phase reclamation work to be completed. 

Existing jetties at former Shell Haven site

An interesting engineering aspect of the new jetty is its proximity to the shoreline where a submerged cantilever steel sheet pile wall allows dredging of the berth to allow sufficient draught for the visiting ships.

Reclamation work to create the new  quay areas is well underway with around 5 million cubic metres of granular material deposited on the shore. The material comes from the massive dredging operation that is underway to deepen the shipping channels leading to the new port.  Dredging is currently being carried out using four dredgers with materials now being pumped ashore via floating pipelines. 

A number of wartime munitions along with archaeological artifacts have been recovered from the dredging operations – some of which can be found in DP Worlds offices and some in the munitions store out on the site – I will let readers decide which items can be found where.

 Reclamation is sufficiently complete in some areas to permit the temporary rock armour protection to be placed.  This is required to protect the reclaimed areas from the Thames tidal currents while the quay walls are constructed.

Reclamation area ready to receive rock armour

The next construction activities of significance on the site which are due to start in the coming months is the quay wall construction using a pair of tied concrete diaphragm walls – the quay wall and an anchor wall.  The walls will double as foundations for the crane rails for the enormous quayside cranes to be used at the port – the largest such cranes to be used in the UK.

Whilst using diaphragm walls in this context is common in other countries, this will be first such use in the UK.  The diaphragm walls will be constructed from atop the reclaimed land and once completed connected with ties.  The granular material in front of the quay wall will then be dredged out and fenders fitted to creat the berthing quays.

Following Mr Lind’s intersting presentation a final presentation on the ecological mitigation and compensatory works was given by DP World London gateway Environmental Manager Mr Marcus Pearson.  Mr Pearson outlined the resident ecology on the brownfield Shell Haven site and the riverside mudflats that carry a number of designations.  An interesting video presentation on covers the content of Mr Pearsons presentation although this video was not shown at the meeting.

The meeting was attended by 63 ICE members, guests and other interested parties.

The Institution of Civil Engineers expresses its thanks to DP World London Gateway and to all its staff who helped to make the meeting the sucess that it was.

One Reply to “London Gateway Port ICE meeting”

  1. I have been involved in such projects before and it’s very very interesting to be part of these kind of reclamation projects. The huge monitoring technics that goes with it and the detailing of cells for dewatering.

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