safeguarding message...
loud and clear

Peruvian Wharf will be back in operation in 2018, after a significant success by the PLA in its drive to protect and reactivate strategic wharfs.

PLA tunnel boring machineSpecial delivery – Tideway’s first tunnel boring machine en route to their Carnwath Road site.

Construction and building materials group Brett Aggregates will open its new state-of-the-art concrete plant at Peruvian Wharf in 2018. In the mix of 70 different terminals and wharves along the River Thames, that might not seem such a big deal for the casual observer – and yet, it represents a huge milestone for the Port of London.

The case of Peruvian Wharf at Newham has drawn attention to the opportunities to take freight off the roads and onto the water, and it has demonstrated the importance of the Mayor of London’s ‘safeguarding’ policy, which protects 50 strategically placed wharves for cargo handling and ensures that they are not lost to housing.

The wharf will be back in operation at last, after a 17-year planning and legal battle by the PLA which culminated in its acquisition at the end of 2016.

From its newest operation, Brett will supply the full range of high specification concrete mixes using both primary and secondary aggregates, to the local area around Silvertown and to ongoing major projects in the rapidly developing East London area, says Oliver Brown. development director of Brett Aggregates.

“The Peruvian site enables these aggregates to be delivered to the point of concrete production sustainably by river and without moving aggregates by road – reducing the carbon footprint of the concrete produced and helping to reduce pollution and congestion on London’s roads, while delivering the critical construction materials for development and regeneration,” he says.

“Brett fully supports the PLA in its desire to see safeguarded wharves brought back into, and protected for, freight use. Safeguarding is a critical part of ensuring that strategically important, sustainable transport hubs are not lost forever to residential development, forcing increased quantities of construction materials on to London’s roads. Marine freight is increasingly essential because of air quality and congestion issues – never mind the cost of road freight. And yet the importance of taking freight off the roads and on to the river is not fully recognised by local politicians in the planning process.”

During 2017, the PLA carried out extensive preparatory works on the site, which had been vacant for many years and required new roads and services. “We are getting there – and Brett will be up and running in 2018,” says James Trimmer, the PLA’s director of planning and environment.

He is also delighted with another confirmation of the value of river freight, in the newly rewritten London Plan, which gives strong support for enabling river freight and for the safeguarding policy.

“We worked hard to ensure that safeguarding and its importance were understood,” says James Trimmer. “The London Plan provides the planning policy framework for the capital. We are pleased that the Mayor supports and wants to expand the use of the river for freight.” In addition, Transport for London’s new transport strategy has strongly supported the use of the river for transport and logistics, he adds.

A Mayoral review of the safeguarded wharves is due in 2018. “We want to make sure that the viable wharves are protected,” says James Trimmer. “And from there, we will be looking to step up the pace with reactivation. We know there is significant interest out there and operators looking for opportunities. We are being regularly approached in connection with a wide range of cargoes – it isn’t just bulks, but many new cargoes as well.”

Overall, he says, the idea of using the river to move freight is now becoming established in the minds of a wider range of operators and stakeholders. “That is a good sign for us. I believe the ways of distributing goods in London in 20 years’ time will be completely different from now, and the River Thames will be a crucial part of that.”

Planning well ahead for such a future is vital. “The increasing use of the river is dependent on having sufficient land and capacity to accommodate future growth. We are optimistic of growth on the river in the short, medium and long-term – and that means we must ensure we have the facilities and capacity to meet those needs.”


A quarter of a million tonnes of materials had been carried in and out of London by river by the end of 2017 in connection with the Thames Tideway Tunnel project – and that is just the beginning.

The new 25-kilometre ‘super sewer’ being excavated through London is centred on the river, involves highly visible construction sites on the river, and the team delivering it is committed to moving the vast majority of materials and equipment involved via the river. That includes taking millions of tonnes of excavated spoil heading out of the capital, and bringing in massive pieces of construction equipment, tunnel boring machines, cranes, tunnel segments, construction materials and office accommodation and equipment.

In November 2017, the first giant tunnel boring machine (TBM) made its way through central London, having made a 500-plus mile journey by barge from Germany. Five more will follow over the coming months. Each of them is named after a famous or influential woman with connections to the sites where the TBMs will be working.

Delivered to Tideway’s Carnwath Road site, the first TBM is named Rachel, after Rachel Parsons, an engineer and advocate for women’s employment rights who set up the first women-only engineering company, in Fulham.

When fully assembled, it will be 147 metres long and weigh a total of 1,350 tonnes; ‘Rachel’ will start tunnelling work in the middle of 2018.

“In total, we have 24 construction sites for the job and at the end of 2017 we were live at 19 of them,” says Geoff Loader, Tideway’s head of stakeholder engagement. “2017 has been a really massive step forward in terms of mobilising the project and becoming visible on the river and in the riverside areas of London.”

The project has three types of sites, he explains...
1 Sites where the TBMs will be received, assembled and put into operation, through large-diameter shafts.
2 Sites to directly intercept the storm overflow and take this into the main new tunnel.
3 Sites where Thames Water pumping stations are being reconfigured for a new way of operating.

The TBMs will head underneath the Thames, excavating a tunnel that starts 30 metres deep in the west and finishes 65 metres deep at Stratford in the east; the diameter will be 8.5 metres, reducing to 7.2 metres once the concrete segments and lining have been installed. That is big enough to park three double decker buses side by side.

PLA digging deepDigging deep – the Thames Tideway Tunnel enabling works are well underway.

The next two main TBMs are due to arrive in early 2018 at the Battersea site, followed by a fourth arriving at Chambers Wharf at the end of 2018 or early 2019. Two TBMs required for driving connecting tunnels will be delivered fully assembled to Greenwich and Wandsworth by road. That, says Geoff Loader, will be an The River amazing sight. “It is great to see that the river can be used in this way,” he says.

“The big focus is on utilising the river. Pretty much every one of the sites impacts on local communities nearby so, in terms of minimising disruption, the more we can put on the river, the better. The current forecast is that instead of Tideway generating 500,000 trucks on London’s streets, using the river should reduce that number to 140,000. That is 360,000 trucks NOT on the streets, which equates to avoiding congestion and pollution and improving safety.”

Tideway will generate an increase of 60% in freight traffic on the river at its peak, he says. When tunnelling gets under way, each TBM will be pushing forward at 100-150 metres a week – as well as the spoil heading out by river, there will be significant volumes of steel and other materials coming in.

“A total 210,000 tonnes of material went in and out by river in 2017. In our planning conditions, we specified 165,000 for the period,” he says. “But it was always Tideway’s intention to go over and above the river transport requirements set out in the development consent order (DCO). This gives an idea of how we have been focusing on the river even before starting actual tunnelling.”

“2017 has been a really massive step forward in terms of mobilising the project and becoming visible on the river and in the riverside areas of London.” Geoff Loader Tideway’s head of stakeholder engagement

Along the 25-kilometre length of the Tideway tunnel, some major works have already got under way in support of the project. This includes...

Chambers Wharf: Now fully up and running, following the delivery of the offices by river and with its temporary cofferdam complete and extending 30 metres into the river to extend the size of the working site. When Tideway is completed, the cofferdam will be removed and the original Thames Path will be reinstated.

Blackfriars: A new pier was installed to replace the older pier which was removed to allow for interception of the River Fleet. A new lift and stairs were installed to provide continued access along the river and into the station, and an old water tower was removed.

Victoria Embankment: A cofferdam is being built out into the river, to enable work on the interception of three sewers. New moorings have been created for restaurant boat, Tattershall Castle. l Heathwall Pumping Station, Nine Elms: The pumping station is being completely reconfigured to intercept discharges of untreated sewage.

Kirtling Street, next to Battersea Power Station: This is the main double drive site for the project and has seen a huge amount of work. A new jetty has been built, and a massive acoustic shed has been built over the tunnel shaft, to enable 24/7 tunnelling without disturbing people in the area. The spoil will be loaded by conveyor into barges.

Carnwath Road: A whole complex of site cabins was brought in by river, the river wall has been strengthened, and another acoustic shed is being constructed.

Putney: A temporary slipway was constructed at the beginning of the year, with 93% of the materials being delivered or removed using river transport. “All along the river, you will see really visible evidence of this super sewer coming to reality,” says Geoff Loader. “The PLA and the harbour master are absolutely crucial to what we are doing; we have a very close working relationship, and we have dedicated staff at the PLA, funded by Tideway, to assist with the project and ensuring it can be done.”