An international driver

From its strategic location on the South Eastern tip of England in the closest proximity to the Continent, the Port of Dover operates as Europe’s busiest and most successful ferry port. The history and origins of the port can be traced back as far as Roman times, however today the port is owned and operated by the Dover Harbour Board, a statutory corporation that was formed according to a Royal Charter by King James I during 1606. The port caters to ferry, cruise, commercial, cargo and marina traffic and during 2014 carried 13,295,492 passengers, 2,456,817 tourist cars, 96,576 coaches and 2,421,537 road haulage vehicles.

As one of Europe’s busiest ports, the Port of Dover represents a major driver for business both nationally and internationally. Since the port was previously profiled in Shipping & Marine magazine during September 2014, it has recorded consecutive years of record-breaking freight figures. During December 2014 it was announced that the port had handled a total in excess of 2.4 million freight vehicles, representing the highest levels of freight to flow through the port at the time since 2007. Levels of freight traffic using the port continued to grow during 2015, with an increase of 4.2 per cent in freight traffic recorded in September, comprising some 9000 more freight units carried than compared to the same month in 2014.

“August is historically a quieter month for freight, whereas June and July have notoriously higher freight peaks. However, the port is having busier days and has carried more freight in the last two months than it did in the equivalent months of 2014 and all of that has been with fewer vessels on the route,” says Port of Dover CEO, Tim Waggott. “In the last 12 months we have carried more freight than the annual total in 2014. Over the last 20 years, the number of freight vehicles travelling from the UK to mainland Europe has increased by 83 per cent. This growth is expected to continue with predictions for the average daily demand increasing to between 14,000 and 16,000 per day in the next decade. This is why the Lower Thames Crossing is crucial in keeping Britain connected with the port. The road network needs the resilience to cope with the demand.”

During January 2016 the Port of Dover stated its support for the Lower Thames Crossing, saying that the delivery of the project will be crucial as the nation seeks to build on the success of the ‘Southern Powerhouse’ and support the building of industry within the North as well as the Midlands, ensuring timely delivery of materials to and from the Continent. Presently around half of the traffic passing through the Port of Dover is in transit beyond London between the Midlands and the North. “Alongside the need to increase productivity and deliver transformation of the Thames Gateway regeneration area, the Lower Thames Crossing must be seen as a strategic investment to improve the resilience of UK-European trade flows. Failure to invest will choke this crucial pan-European business corridor within which the ports of Dover, London and Medway along with Eurotunnel operate and this will damage UK plc,” Tim reveals.

“The Port of Dover continues to handle record volumes of freight vehicle traffic with strong projected growth and no substitutable capacity elsewhere. The existing Dartford crossings are already a major bottleneck, operating at over capacity and acting as a break on national productivity,” he adds. “The Port of Dover is investing in infrastructure for the long term. We need the Government to do the same by following through with a firm strategic decision to be the builders of prosperity up and down the country through delivery of a new Lower Thames Crossing.”

Infrastructure projects taking place at the Port of Dover include ongoing development of the Western Docks revival project and its recently completed Traffic Management Improvement (TMI) programme. TMI delivers 4km of additional lanes to provide a holding capacity for as many as 220 freight vehicles and is designed to remove bottlenecks in the port by re-routing and intelligently managing traffic flows with variable lane messaging and lane control. TMI will also reduce congestion on the surrounding road network, reduce air pollution and improve the visual impression of the port.

The transformation of the Western Docks has the potential to support the wider agenda of having the port and town working in unity; a goal that is already being championed by the Port through its Dover waterfront regeneration project alongside Dover District Council. The Western Docks development project has been developed with key input from Dover based Hartwell Architects and in June 2015 the Port of Dover signed a major contract with the nationwide contractor GRAHAM. In its role the company has been working with the Port of Dover team as part of a Pre- Construction Agreement to finalise the design and cost plans for the marine civil engineering works for the development. A successful outcome from the Pre-Construction Agreement should lead to an award of the principal construction contract with a view to commencing on site in early 2016, and opening the Western Docks cargo terminal in 2017. The agreement with GRAHAM demonstrates the port’s dedication to serving the local and national community, as well as its commitment to create high quality jobs for local people and safeguard existing port jobs. “Dover is currently seeing an unprecedented level of investment and it is great to see that there is now a shared vision to take the district forward for the benefit of its residents, businesses and visitors,” Tim concludes. “The Port is committed to playing its part in making Dover a place to shout about and celebrate.”

Port of Dover
Europe’s busiest and most successful ferry port

Dover Western Docks Revival project

Traffic management improvement programme