The news that commercial barge deliveries from the Humber to Leeds have been restored was also published in a sporting magazine and the Yahoo! News aggregator.
The government should invest in inland waterways if it is serious about a green industrial revolution
Forward thinking Dave Higgens of the Belfast Telegraph reports that the green credentials of waterborne transport have been acknowledged for some time – and if the government wants to go green, it needs to improve our waterways so they can take bigger barges.
John Dodwell, of the Commercial Boat Operators Association, was speaking as commercial barge deliveries from the Humber to Leeds have been made for the first time in 20 years and plans for a new inland port in the West Yorkshire city are being welcomed.
He pointed out that moving cargo by barge is more environmentally friendly even than using electric lorries – each barge takes the same load as 18 big trucks:
“Barges produce far less noxious emissions than lorries. There have been some figures saying they produce only 25% of the CO2 which vehicles do. But, even if all lorries had electric engines, there would still be wear and tear from tyres, from brake pads and from brake surfaces, putting particulates into the atmosphere, which we breathe in . . .
“Barges don’t have to overcome friction in the same way that a lorry does, they just glide along the water. It’s a more efficient use of fuel and a more efficient use of people. One barge carrying 500 tonnes has a two-man crew. They can carry that cargo from Hull to Leeds more quickly than if they each drove an HGV up and down the M62. So, although it may appear to be slow, it actually gets the cargo there sooner.”
The Aire and Calder Navigation, the conduit for the recently reinstated Goole to Leeds building aggregate deliveries, is big enough for the barges currently available. But Mr Dodwell said that an expansion of the industry could soon see a demand for bigger vessels and the Government – which funds road improvements – should also look at improving waterways in order to transport containers by canal.
“There is talk of even bigger lorries. There’s talk of one lorry pulling another. And that increases the productivity of the lorry driver. Why can’t we have similar improvements paid for by the Government for the waterways?”
He spoke of the potential for the expansion of traffic on the Aire and Calder as well as a number of other waterways around the UK where commercial barge operations are growing. Barges on the River Thames are playing central role in the many tunnelling projects ongoing in London, from the Super Sewer to Tube line extensions, adding: “All this goes past the Houses of Parliament but it goes so quietly most MPs don’t realise what’s happening.”
Barge owner John Branford said the new inland port at Stourton in Leeds, located close to the motorway and rail networks, is expected to receive 200,000 tonnes of freight a year but he predicted that the capacity would be 825,000 tonnes – a figure which would take 60,000 lorries off the road.
The slogan: “Go barge”!