Trials start on transport by waterways

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Trials are underway of a system for delivering ash from power stations by ship which could take up to 40 lorries off the road for each journey.

The Torrent was recently loaded with nearly 1,200 tonnes of pulverised fuel ash at the Drax power station on the River Ouse, some 60 miles inland from the sea for delivery to Waterford. An alternative was to use 40 HGVs on the M62 across the Pennines to reach a western port before being loaded onto a ship for Ireland.

Specialist bulk handling company T W Logistics worked in partnership with ash sales agent Hargreaves Coal Combustion Products to organise the water route.

The ash, a by-product from power stations, is used in the manufacture of concrete and concrete products and building blocks, as well as for structural fill.

Peter Emery, production director of Drax, said: “Drax produces about 1.4million tonnes of PFA per year and has traditionally used road transport to take it away. Using the waterways to transport our PFA not only means that we use a lower carbon form of transport and reduce our movements by road.”

Transporting freight by water has the potential to cut fuel and labour costs with two men crewing one single 600 tonne barge which is able to move the equivalent of twenty-four 25 tonne lorry loads. Further trials are planned for later this year.

John Dodwell, chairman of the Commercial Boat Operators Association said: “With more than 100 ports around the UK which can handle vessels like the Torrent, using ships from inland wharves provides additional scope for further shipments both from Drax and from other power stations in Yorkshire and the Trent Valley. They have a choice of as many as nine inland wharves and docks in the area at which ships can load PFA.”

This is just what the government wants – the use of water freight means less congestion and less carbon emissions. The waterways are underused transport arteries and there is considerable scope for more tonnages.

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