£1m Northfleet radar tower to give port control teams ‘eagle’s eye view’ of busy section of River Thames

PUBLISHED: 10:02 14 June 2017 | UPDATED: 10:02 14 June 2017

A new radar tower will be constructed at Northfleet. Photo: Todd-White Art Photography/Ben F

A new radar tower will be constructed at Northfleet. Photo: Todd-White Art Photography/Ben F

©Todd-White Art Photography 2017

The Port of London Authority is investing in a new 50-metre tall tower that will house the latest, energy efficient system

Work has begun on the construction of a new radar tower in Northfleet to oversee safe navigation on the River Thames.

The Gravesend-based Port of London Authority (PLA) - responsible for safety and promoting use of the river - is investing £1m in replacing the existing radar, located on Tarmac’s riverside office building, with a new 50-metre tall tower that will house the latest, energy efficient system.

Bosses say Tarmac’s Northfleet site is ideally located, offering excellent line of sight along two busy reaches of the Thames, with more than half a million tonnes of cement imported through their berths every year.

A ground-breaking ceremony took place this week to signal the start of the works.

PLA chief executive, Robin Mortimer, said: “A radar at this location is essential as it gives our port control team at Gravesend an eagle’s eye view of a complex, busy part of the river with a blind bend and very strong tidal flows.

“This part of the Thames is the heart of the commercial port, so our investment is keeping ships safe for cargo handling operations which generate over 40,000 jobs and economic value added of £4 billion a year.”

The Thames is home to 70 independently operated terminals, supplying the bulk of south-east’s vehicle and airport fuel, the country’s largest grain and forestry products terminals, and facilitating the shipping of food, household goods, steel, cars, waste, and construction aggregates.

Peter Steen, PLA director of marine operations added: “It is essential that we provide continuous oversight of the busy river that we look after.

“The new radar is an important part of this and will improve the overall resilience of our network of equipment including radar, CCTV, weather monitoring, pilotage sector lights and our microwave communications system.”

Breheny Civil Engineering has been contracted to install the tower installed over the next six months.

PLA radar and communications equipment commissioning will follow.

The authority operates an 18-strong radar network and shares its marine, environmental, planning and other expertise to promote use of the river and safeguard its unique marine environment.

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