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£50m Thames Estuary dredging

One of the largest dredging operations the world has ever seen will begin in the Thames Estuary on Monday, March 8th  2010.

ONE of the largest dredging operations the world has ever seen will begin in the Thames Estuary on Monday, March 8.

Environmentalists, politicians and civic leaders believe the £50million operation, needed to allow tankers to pass up the Thames to Thurrock’s new £1.5billion London Gateway Port and Logistics Park, could cause devastating problems for the local ecology.

Dubai-based port operator DP World has denied the claims, but will pay out compensation to local fisherman who will lose their livelihoods.

Managers at Southend’s Sea Life Adventure are deeply concerned that the 100km dredge could destroy marine life and water quality.

Centre curator, David Knapp, explained: “We were worried that it will completely ruin the ecology in the Thames Estuary, particularly the mussel and oyster beds.

“It could stir up toxins which have been locked away in the seabed since the Industrial Revolution.”

Mr Knapp also explained that the water supplies for the Sea Life Adventure were taken from the River Thames.

He added: “We’ve spent a million pounds on refurbishing, but this dredge could contaminate our water and kill our animals.”

Bosses at DP World said that dredging had been carried out for many years and was highly regulated and monitored by a number of government agencies.

The dredge is also expected to affect bird populations, fishing stocks and other marine life, including mussels and cockles and their natural habitat.

But a DP World spokesman said that the impact would be monitored through a comprehensive marine environment management programme.

He said: “This will ensure the River Thames, its eco system, fish stocks and natural wildlife is carefully protected during the dredge and into the future.”

DP World said that fish stocks and cockle beds would be extensively monitored and that the firm was developing a wildlife haven for birds known as Site A.

The company has also formed an Ecological Advisory Group, which includes representatives from the Environment Agency, Natural England, Port of London Authority (PLA), the RSPB, Department of Transport, Thurrock Council and the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation (TTGDC).

Others fears include concerns that the dredge could impact in land slippage. Southend’s famous cliffs have been closed for more than five years due to erosion.

Dredge is a ‘crucial part’ of London Gateway Port

THE £50million pound dredge is a crucial stage in construction of the £1.5billion London Gateway Port and Logistics Park.

London Gateway chief executive, Simon Moore, explained: “It means that the biggest ships will be able to their cargo as close as possible to the largest point of consumption in the UK – London and the South East.

“As an island nation, 95 per cent of our trade is by sea so it’s crucial to keep the UK connected with the rest of the world.”

The project had been in doubt after DP World announced in March 2009 that it was ‘under review’ in light of the global economic downturn.

A loan of more than 14million Euros from the European Investment Bank has offered the kick-start needed to get the project back on track.

Fishermen in line to get compensation

FISHERMEN are being offered compensation from DP World.

The company has set up a Disturbance Payments Scheme to compensate owners of fishing vessels and other fishing-reliant businesses for any losses incurred.

The Advanced Payments Scheme offers a one-off payment to fishermen who need to change their operating methods or cease fishing altogether, while a Pay As You Go scheme is offered to fishermen and related businesses that can be more flexible in their fishing methods during the port construction.

How will the dredging take place?

  • Work will be carried out by Trailer Suction Hopper Dredgers, which travel at just two knots.
  • They will pump deposits from the seabed, which will be taken to the London Gateway port site where they will be used as the base for a new jetty.

How will the dredge be monitored?

  • London Gateway has commissioned HR Wallingford to offer advice on the impacts of engineering works on marine and coastal processes.
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Marine Surveys (GEMS) will monitor sediment levels and water quality through a network of buoys and monitoring stations.
  • This will create a cordon around commercial cockle beds, flats and Chapman Sands. London Gateway has commissioned HR Wallingford to offer advice on the impacts of engineering works on marine and coastal processes.
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Marine Surveys (GEMS) will monitor sediment levels and water quality through a network of buoys and monitoring stations.
  • This will create a cordon around commercial cockle beds, flats and Chapman Sands.

The facts: London

  • The port will be built on almost two miles of quayside and space for up to seven container vessel berths.
  • The first quay will be 2,300m long and the first berth will be 450m long.
  • The port will be able to handle 3.5 million TEU a year and take the world’s largest deep-sea container ships, which, at 400m long, carry 10,000 containers.
  • The Business Park will be built on 700-acres and will be able to accommodate buildings in excess of 100,000sq m with links to the rail network.
  • It will be the biggest in Europe and will offer 9.5m sq ft for the distribution, manufacturing and technology industries.
  • The Thames Estuary attracts a number of birds including the Cettis Warbler, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting and Sky Larks.
  • The nearby Mucking Flats and Mucking Marshes are popular sites for Avocets, the Ringed Plover and the Black-Tailed Godwit.
  • The marine population in the immediate area surrounding the dredging site includes crabs and prawns and the Lower Thames Estuary is a rich breeding ground for Sole.
  • Unique cockle beds run from Southend Flats east to Foulness Sands and the Mussel Beds in an inter-tidal area off Southend and Westcliff.

Source document http://www.dredgingtoday.com/2010/02/18/london-gateway-port-dredging-of-the-river-thames-raises-concerns/