Waste by water reaches Olympian heights

A hi-tech canal barge has been built which can carry significant loads of waste on London's waterways with the potential to link up to the Olympic site

A high capacity barge has been built to transport waste materials along the River Thames and London waterways. Land & Water Group, in partnership with British Waterways, has designed the Olympic barge as a financially-viable alternative to road haulage.

Traditional barges are limited as to the weight they are able to carry due to the depth of the canal and also the amount of water a fully loaded barge displaces. However the Olympic light-weight vessel is extremely shallow drafted, and can carry in excess of 85 tonnes, at an operating draft of under 1.37m.

The Olympic barge is being put into action with waste management firm Powerday, which operates a £12M industrial/domestic MRF on the outskirts of London. The MRF is sited on the Grand Union Canal and Powerday has installed a 75m long quay to accept barges up to 90 tonnes fully laden.

The combination of a custom-designed barge and waterside recycling plant has made the concept of canal transport a genuine commercial option, and Land & Water and Powerday have now formed a commercial agreement to jointly market and develop their multi-modal and sustainable solutions for waste streams and building materials in Central and West London.

Powerday chairman Mick Crossan says: “Freight transport by water has always been something of a pipedream, but the introduction of the Olympic barge has made it possible for waste to be transported from multiple sites within London to the recycling plant here at Old Oak Sidings. It is a very exciting development.”

But it is the long-term potential which is really exciting. The Regents Canal links with the Grand Union, which passes through the heart of London, which in turn joins up with the Olympic site in Leytonstone in East London. In an age when pressure is on contractors to reduce traffic and pollution in the capital, freight transport by canal is now a viable alternative.

It is already possible for all forms of waste to be loaded into the barge at various collecting sites across the capital and transported along the canal network to the processing plant at Old Oak Sidings at a competitive cost to conventional alternatives and without the environmental impact that more traditional road haulage would have.

In addition, Land & Water has entered into partnerships with marine towage specialists GPS Marine Contractors for tidal vessel movements on the Thames, and with a number of landfill operators to provide a one-stop shop for East London and Thames-side projects.

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