‘Positive outlook’ for expanding Port of London


London Mayoral elections are coming up, a UK General Election is coming up, and there are numerous geopolitical challenges, said Port of London Authority chair Jonson Cox (pictured) at the annual PLA reception last week, adding: “but I do think the outlook for the port, as far as we can predict, is positive”.

The port is expanding and increasing its cargo volumes, he said, and it is recruiting and investing. The PLA launched its masterplan for the river during 2023 and published a three-year Net Zero River Plan, working towards its 2040 Net Zero target.

As well as launching the Tamesis, the first fully electric, remote-control survey vessel in a UK port, during 2023, the PLA launched the Clean Thames Manifesto. Cox said: “We were able to persuade three water companies, which discharge through 118 points in the river, that they will bring forward their targets for a clean river ten years ahead of the government target.”

He said he was also delighted that the 25km Thames Tideway Tunnel ‘super sewer’ is moving into the commissioning stage this year. As the licensing and navigation authority, the PLA has worked closely with the Tideway project.

This year, the PLA is investing in new pilot cutters, upgrading the pilots’ simulator, replacing its Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) equipment and replacing 17 radar stations along the river. It will also continue its focus on training, career-long learning and apprenticeships, working with the Company of Watermen and Lightermen and other parties.

Cox highlighted the significance of the PLA’s Trust Port status. “It is absolutely unique,” he said. “We have no shareholders to bail us out, no government to bail us out. We have to succeed – it is down to us. But also, we have no shareholders that we have to pay dividends to. We invest everything we make into the port.”

Referring to the PLA’s acquisition and development of new piers on the Thames, he added. “The PLA is really engaged in developing the commercial side of the river.”