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Dredging Begins on U.K. Dover Western Docks Revival

The excavator dredge Kreeft was the first vessel to arrive on site at Dover in early April 2017.

The Dover Western Docks Revival (DWDR) is a unique project aimed at the regeneration of the city of Dover, to stimulate new investment into the area. Dover, most well-known for its chalky “White Cliffs,” is located on the south­eastern coast of England and has long been a ma­jor ferry port, with the Dover to Calais, France, ferry crossing the English Channel at its narrow­est point.

As reported by the Dover Harbour Board and the Port of Dover, the port forms the main ferry and freight link between England and France, and as of 2014, the port receives more than 19,000 vessels per year, double that of any other port in the United Kingdom, and handles approximately 5 million roll-on roll-off (RORO) vehicles and more than 13 million passengers per year, processing large volumes of tourist traf­fic through its six ferry berths, multiple assem­bly parks and custom built infrastructure. It is an essential transport hub between the British Isles and the European continent. The port also has an important role as a cruise terminal and is the second busiest in the United Kingdom. The Eastern Docks also accommodate general cargo activities, and the Western Docks accommodate marina facilities in the Wellington Dock, Tidal Harbour and Granville Dock.

The Dover Western Docks Revival is a proj­ect planned and supported by the government of the United Kingdom and a mix of private financing and European Union grant funding. The objectives are to transform the waterfront to attract shops, bars, cafes and restaurants with Dover’s unique backdrop of the harbor, cliffs and castle; relocate and further develop the cargo business with a new cargo terminal and distribution center; create a greater space within the Eastern Docks for ferry traffic; and provide much needed quality employment opportunities for local residents.

DWDR is the single biggest investment ever undertaken by the Port of Dover with about £250 The revival plan is identified in the government’s National Infrastructure Delivery Plan 2016-2021, published in March 2016, as a priority for port ca­pacity investment. The plan was produced by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, reporting to HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office. DWDR scored ‘Excellent’ for the CEEQUAL Interim Client and Outline Design Award - the evidence-based sustainability assessment, rating and awards scheme that promotes the achievement of high environmental and social performance in civil engineering, infrastructure, landscaping and pub­lic realm projects.

The principal contractor for Dover Western Docks Revival is a joint venture between Volker­Stevin and Boskalis Westminster (VSBW), which has been selected to deliver the marine structures and bridge contract for the Port of Dover’s flag­ship (DWDR) development. This construction stage includes the design and build of two new berths including quay walls and land reclamation, a new marina pier, the marina curve, navigation channel and new lock gates, Bascule bridge and capital dredging work and carries a contract value of £115 million ($148 million).


Plans were developed and approved in 2014, and in July 2015, the “Goodwin Sands Aggre­gate Dredging and EIA Scoping Report” was issued by Royal Haskoning/DHV. Its analyses confirmed that “the footprints of environmen­tal effects predicted to result from the DWDR scheme are within the envelope of effects” pre­viously assessed. Goodwin Sands was found to be a suitable source of aggregate, because it is “a dynamic, highly mobile system and therefore the marine communities impacted by dredging at this location would be expected to recover well following disturbance.”

This was followed by the request for and is­suance of appropriate permits. The proposal suggests “that dredging will take place between September 2017 and July 2019 in three stages, corresponding to the relevant DWDR construc­tion stages for which aggregate is required. The dredging will comprise up to 1 million cubic me­ters (about 1.3 cubic yards) per stage, up to a to­tal maximum for the project of 2,500,000 cubic meters.” The construction works are planned in three stages: Stage 1 from September to Decem­ber 2017; Stage 2 from May to August 2018; and Stage 3 from April to July 2019. As stated in the permit application, dredging is planned to take place 24/7.

Work began in April 2017 with the arrival of several specialist vessels from the joint venture at the port for the initial dredging of the harbor to remove soft sediment. As announced by the Port of Dover, “the first vessel to arrive was the Kreeft, a self-propelled crane barge, fitted with bespoke attachments for the identification and removal of obstructions. Other dredging vessels include two trailing suction hopper dredges, the 1,500 cubic meter capacity Sospan Dau and one of the 4,500 cubic meter Causeway class vessels.”

These vessels have been dredging, removing and relocating soft sediment to the designated offshore licensed disposal area. Harder mate­rial is being dredged with the MP40 backhoe dredge, which will transfer dredged material to the 800 cubic meter self-discharging split-hop­per barges Wadden 1 and Wadden 4 for removal to the disposal area. The trailer dredges and split hoppers will be traveling regularly between the port and the disposal area ahead of the ini­tial piling program.

Harbor dredging is a standard practice within the port industry usually undertaken as part of harbor maintenance and prior to major marine civil engineering developments. To facilitate these operations, there will be other support vessels such as tugs and survey vessels operating within the harbor with the project making use of Boskalis Westminster’s extensive dredging fleet.

Reportedly, approximately one million cubic meters (1.308 million cubic yards) of silt, gravel and chalk will be removed from the harbor to al­low for the creation of a purpose-built cargo and logistics facility, a new marina and a transformed waterfront at Dover’s very busy ferry port. Jack Goodhew, general manager – special projects, Port of Dover, said, “The start of the preparatory dredging works for DWDR is another visible sign of our commitment to deliver this strategic in­frastructure development, identified by the Gov­ernment in its National Infrastructure Delivery Plan as a priority for port capacity investment.”

Since the arrival of the first vessels in April, Antony Greenwood, DWDR communications officer, at the port, said that since then, “Oth­er vessels have arrived – mostly crane barges, small work boats and piling rigs. One large vessel to note is the Sheerleg crane barge. Its work will consist of removal of the concrete ar­mour units in front of the Spur Pier creating a 20 meter wide navigation channel. The work conducted by a Sheerleg crane barge will lift nine sections of the jetty to create the channel at circa 250 tons each. Work is progressing very well – the initial stages of capital dredging have progressed and concluded in early May. Piling has commenced on Berths A and C.” Follow­ing planning, “these vessels are returning in late June and July to carry out the final stages of capital dredging.”


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