By increasing cargo carried on the Thames the Port of London Authority (PLA) has said it hopes to reduce the number of lorry trips in the region by 400,000 a year.
In a report outlining its 20-year vision, PLA also sets out aims to make the Port of London “the biggest it’s ever been” by increasing the volume of goods handled from 45m tonnes in 2015 up to 60-80m tonnes by 2035.
PLA is the statutory body responsible for the 95-mile stretch of the Thames from Teddington Lock to the North Sea.
The Thames is already the UK’s busiest inland waterway and transported 5.5m tonnes of material in 2014, the report said. However, big infrastructure projects such as Crossrail account for most of this.
Excluding major infrastructure projects, over the last decade an average of 2.2m tonnes of goods and materials were transported by the river a year. PLA want to see this rise to 4m tonnes by 2035.
Increasing the underlying average volume of goods moved by river will remove congestion on the road and be better for the environment, the report said. It estimates a 1,000 tonne barge can carry the equivalent of 100 lorry journeys.
“As London grows to the east, there is potential to supply these new communities, with the transport of more household and containerised goods by river... potentially [enabling] the creation of better living environments, with fewer lorry movements and improved safety for residents,” the report said.
The report also suggested a series of infrastructure improvements to increase the Port of London’s capacity, including widening of the A13 and a series of new road crossing across the Thames.
“Work on the actions is already well underway and I’m excited to see the progress we can make between now and next spring when we have our first report back of progress,” said Christopher Rodrigues, PLA chairman.