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South East gets its biggest new port - London Gateway

A view of the giant quay cranes at London Gateway Photo: ITV Meridian

Today sees the official unveiling of Britain's first new port in almost 20 years - London Gateway on the Thames at Stanford-le-Hope.

The first cargo ship is being unloaded today at the port, built on the site of a former oil refinery and with six deep-water berths which can handle the world's largest container ships.

Prime Minister David Cameron on a previous visit Credit: PA

The view from the high quay cranes is stunning and despite the port opening for business it will be five to ten years before building work has finished.

That's partly because a huge logistics park, or distribution centre, is to be built next to the port, allowing major importers and exporters to store their goods in warehouses before moving them on.

The first cargo ship is carrying wine, food and car parts from South Africa and arrived last night.

London Gateway has preliminary agreements allowing one ship a week to dock, but it's hoped many more will follow, boosting the South East economy and hopefully passing savings onto customers.

The port's main advantage is its proximity to the rich markets of the South East and the plan is that companies will be able to move their goods quicker and more cheaply.

It will potentially take 2,000 lorries off the road as much of the road freight to London, Kent and Sussex comes via distribution centres in the Midlands.

Rivals claim the busy roads around London mean goods might not get to the South East any quicker.But another of London Gateway's plus points is that it has more deep water berths than any other port, at a time when container ships are getting ever larger - the biggest can carry 18,000 containers.

And perhaps most importantly for us, the port and park are set to create 12,000 jobs. As many as 30,000 people could end up being employed directly or indirectly taking into account businesses and services feeding off the port.