Debt-ridden owner Dubai World begins construction work on essential infrastructure for Thames Gateway project

Construction work has begun on the £1.5bn London Gateway port, which had stalled following owner Dubai World's debt issues.

Prime minister Gordon Brown and business secretary Lord Mandelson visited the site today to mark the start of infrastructure work on the scheme.

However, Dubai World said that the development, which will be Europe's largest combined deep-sea port and logistics park, will be kept under review.

It said: "The board of DP World Limited has reviewed a number of options for the London Gateway project in light of the current market downturn and is pleased to announce it has decided to proceed with construction of essential infrastructure that lays the foundation of the facility."

London Gateway port
The site of the London Gateway port is double the size of the City of London

DP World added that it had bought the remaining 1,000 acres of land needed for the port and Royal Dutch Shell's remaining interest in the project for £136m.

Sited on the north bank of the Thames near Thurrock in Essex, the 1,500-acre London Gateway development will be a hub port for the UK, with unrivalled deep-sea shipping access. It is also planned to include a 9.5m sq ft business park for distribution, manufacturing and hi-tech firms.

Gordon Brown said: “I am delighted with the decision to locate this world-class project here in the UK. It will help bring the largest deep sea vessels here and improve the efficiency of the UK's freight distribution, creating thousands of jobs, future growth and economic prosperity.”

The London Gateway port is one of the main economic drivers in the regeneration of the Thames Gateway, the UK's largest regeneration area, covering a 40-mile stretch across east London, south Essex and north Kent.