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LONDON-P&O, among the world’s leading developers and operators of container ports, is set to build the UK’s largest container port after the government gave the go-ahead for the euro 2.15-billion ($2.62-billion) development. The 1,500 acre scheme will also see the development of a logistics and business park on the former Shell Haven oil refinery site on the Thames Estuary. Roughly half of the investment will go to the port development.

The London Gateway Logistics and Business Park will cover 700 acres and comprise more than one million sf of accommodation for distribution, manufacturing and high-tech sectors. The park will be linked to the rail network, and there will be extensive landscaping on the site, including a protected habitat zone around the park.

Port development will include a 2,300-metre-long container quay with a fully-developed capacity of 3.5 million standard container units a year. It will also include a roll-on/roll-off freight facility to handle two vessels with stern /bow loading.

Shell Haven, a 1,500-acre brownfield site with a two-mile River Thames frontage, is located in Thurrock. The site has been used as a port since the 16th century. The oil refinery stopped production in 1999 and since then Shell has spent euro 71.8 million ($87.3 million) on cleanup, making it one of the largest brownfield-site remediation programs in Europe.

Transport minister David Twigg explains that he approved the proposals “subject to satisfaction of a number of outstanding issues.” These included the provision of additional highway capacity in the area.

“We plan to move ahead with both schemes as soon as possible,” states P&O chief executive Robert Woods. The development what he terms “a national need for more container terminal capacity in the UK. London Gateway Port will ensure that this requirement is met for at least the next 10 years.” He went on to predict that the project will produce “one of the UK’s leading distribution centers.”

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