PAUL Scully, MP, Minister for London, has visited the Thames Estuary, the UK’s biggest growth opportunity, for a tour along the River Thames from Tower Pier to Tilbury. Scully was guided by Thames Estuary Envoy Kate Willard OBE to see just some of the projects and developments in North Kent, South Essex and East London, which play a vital role in growth not only for the region, but for the UK as a whole.
The Thames Clipper tour showcased impressive developments in commerce, industry, retail, and transport, such as Dagenham Dock – the consolidated location of the historic markets of Billingsgate, Spitalfields, and Smithfield – set to support 11,800 jobs and bring £2.9 billion to the UK economy each year, and London Resort – the UK’s biggest theme park, scheduled to open in 2025 – due to generate £50bn and create more than 50,000 jobs over the next 25 years.
A major development for the area last year was the successful Freeport bid, backed by the Thames Estuary Growth Board, which connects Ford’s world-class Dagenham engine plant to global ports at London Gateway and Tilbury. Paul Scully heard from Thames Freeport leads about how the Thames Estuary Growth Board continues to work with partners on its evolution.
The visit was hosted by Estuary Envoy, Kate Willard OBE who extolled the Thames Estuary Growth Board’s progress. In July, the Board developed its ‘Green Blue’ workplan, which details key steps for how the Thames Estuary Growth Board will deliver the potential of the region.
Net zero is central to the ‘Green Blue’ workplan. In 2021, the Thames Estuary Growth Board launched its Hydrogen Route Map to identify the opportunities for an Estuary-wide hydrogen ecosystem. This entails distributing, storing and supplying hydrogen power to help keep the nation on track to net zero. During his visit, Paul Scully was shown the extent of the opportunity for hydrogen-powered, greener transport and logistics within the Thames Estuary and beyond. Part of this includes moving light freight from road to river to ease congestion and air pollution: a key focus for the Thames Estuary Growth Board in the coming months.
The Thames Estuary, including the developments seen by Paul Scully today, will support the creation of 1.3m jobs and deliver £190bn GVA to the UK economy by 2035, turbo-charging national economic growth. Additionally, the Thames Estuary Growth Board’s work chimes with Government targets by helping address housing concerns with responsible and respectful house building. In summary, these ambitions will propel the Government’s Levelling Up Agenda.
The role of the Thames Estuary Growth Board is three-fold. Firstly, to advocate: championing the projects and businesses of this place, by networking with Government, local leaders, and industry to put our region on the map. Secondly, to convene: bringing the right people together to make great things happen. Thirdly, to invest: finding and generating finance to make those goals a reality.
The Thames Estuary Growth Board is striving to evolve developments in the region, solving business problems and helping to drive value and deliver Estuary-wide benefit at scale.
Minister Scully heard from key partner representatives to recognize the potential value in the region. The Thames Estuary Growth Board commissioned a report, its ‘Levelling Up Data Atlas’, to better understand the huge deprivation and disparity across and within the Estuary and determine the demand case for Levelling Up. MP Scully committed to taking this message forward to advocate the region across the halls of Westminster, and help garner further backing for the region.
Commenting on the visit, Thames Estuary Envoy, Kate Willard OBE said:
“It was an honour to host Minister Paul Scully today on a tour of the Thames Estuary. This Government created The Thames Estuary Growth Board, so we were delighted to take this opportunity to show them how we are making great things happen in this beautiful region.
The Thames Estuary will play a vital role in Government ambitions, including net zero and levelling up targets. As a Board, we are all about action. We identify new opportunities, connect the right people, unstick where things get stuck, and ultimately move things forward to create good, green growth for people within the Estuary and beyond.”