The 854-metre quay wall fronting the new deep-water container terminal is nearing completion and infilling to reclaim 30 acres of land from the river to create the £300m logistics hub will begin this month.
Liverpool 2 is due to be ready to accept commercial ships in December this year. Peel Ports' major infrastructure project sits alongside the existing container terminal at Seaforth, at the mouth of the river flowing into the Irish Sea.
David Huck, port director at Peel Ports, said: "This is about restoring the natural balance of cargo movement in the UK, currently weighted in favour of the south which has the facilities big enough for today's generation of large ships."
Construction has largely caught up with the planned schedule after time was lost during the winter months due to bad weather.
Once completed the newly created landmass will be able to receive the five giant ship-to-shore cranes currently under construction in China.
The quay wall is being created with 329 tubular steel piles weighing 47 tonnes each; 60% of marine piling has now been completed. In total 19,000 tonnes of steelwork will be needed to create the wall and 30,000 cubic metres of concrete to build the capping beam. At almost 30m high this is one of the highest quay walls in Europe.
Peel Ports hopes Liverpool 2 will lure ships that can hold 13,500 containers from Felixstowe and Southampton to serve customers in the North, Scotland and Ireland from Peel Port's new facility, saving money on road haulage in the process. Currently the lock system and tidal movements of the Mersey estuary limits ships to 4,500 containers in size.
The greater volume of cargo due to come through Liverpool is expected to drive demand for logistics space along the M62 corridor as retailers and manufacturers refocus their distribution routes. There is also expected to be a boost for the Atlantic Gateway development vision for the Manchester Ship Canal and Mersey between Liverpool and Manchester via Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Warrington and Salford, where Peel has significant interests. The ship canal container shuttle service will move in the region of 20,000 containers the 40 miles from Liverpool to Manchester this year alone.
Huck said talks were ongoing with shipping lines about new services signing up in advance of the opening in 10 months' time but declined to disclose further details.
The principal contractor for the quay wall was Bam Nuttall and, for dredging for the 16.5-metre deep berthing pocket adjacent to the quay wall, Van Oord. Lend Lease had originally been appointed principal contractor in September 2012 but the agreement ended 12 months later. Huck said the move came when Lend Lease, part of the Australian development and construction giant of the same name, decided to exit the infrastructure market. Lend Lease declined to comment. Huck added that a handful of Lend Lease staff were still employed on the project but could not say in what capacity. Peel Ports transferred the main contracts from Lend Lease to Bam Nuttall and Van Oord and assumed a more hands-on client role itself.
Next month, customers at the existing container terminal will move onto the new £9.7m computer operating system which will serve both old and new yards, allowing driverless remote control of cranes handling two 380-metre 'megamax' 13,500-container ships simultaneously. Containers will be scanned for character recognition to identify cargo and drivers will have their hands scanned for biometric recognition linked to HMRC, port community and border agency systems.
A £13m programme of warehouse refurbishment portside at Seaforth is also underway but Peel Ports is at capacity at the historic site with little room for new development. Industrial developers including parent Peel will be watching with interest this year and next in readiness to satisfy the extra demand from port-related occupiers attracted to Liverpool 2.
The project team for Liverpool 2 is as follows:
- Bam Nuttal
- Van Oord (quay wall)
- Van Oord (dredging)
- Farrans (construction)
- Scottish Power (offsite HV electrical)
- FES (onsite HV electrical)
- Sir Robert McAlpine (autogate civil engineering)
- Royal Haskoning (marine design)
- Mott Macdonald (infrastructure design)
- Aecom (quantity surveying)
- ACTS (electrical design)
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