Our website uses cookies so that we can provide a better service. Continue to use the site as normal if you're happy with this, or find out how to manage cookies.

Why London?

Because London offers the most diverse, successful, well-connected, well-equipped and service-oriented cluster of port facilities.

Because London is on the doorstep of the biggest consumer market in the UK.

Container ships discharge in LondonBecause 70 dedicated, specialised terminal and wharf operations all along the Thames have the undoubted experience that comes from being part of the UK’s second busiest port by volume.

And because, backing up the location, expertise, experience and range of facilities, the PLA offers an unrivalled portfolio of services – pilotage, vessel traffic services, marine services, hydrographic surveying, diving – which truly set it apart in a highly competitive market.

Operators looking at London can be sure of the very best support from the PLA, which will:

  • Help shippers to find out which facilities and shipping lines match their needs and aspirations;
  • Assist clients in experimenting with planned jetty extensions or the handling of larger ships in absolute safety on our advanced ship manoeuvring simulator;
  • Offer the support of a dedicated hydrographic surveying team, equipped with some of the best kit in the business;
  • Keep a close eye on environmental issues, which sit at the top of the agenda for the PLA;
  • Support shippers in their “green” aspirations, with the advantage of a direct route – the Thames – into the heart of the busy London market.


The Port of London Authority, which celebrated its centenary in 2009, is responsible for the safety of navigation along 95 miles of the tidal River Thames, from Teddington Lock to the estuary.

Ships on the ThamesIt has statutory responsibility for protecting the marine environment, promoting the use of the river, and ensuring the security and safety of port operations. 

"As an organisation we clearly have a regulatory role – but we are also very much a service provider," says PLA chief executive Richard Everitt. "Our mission is to provide the best services while operating within that regulatory framework; we are continuously looking for ways in which we can improve our services."

The PLA also remains strongly committed to protecting the environment and wildlife on the Thames; its unique partnership with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is a clear demonstration of this.

And the Thames itself has an important role to play in the search for "green" solutions for transport and logistics. Where else in the UK can you find a free, uncongested "motorway" right to the centre of such a huge population?

More than five million tonnes of cargo is carried up and down the river every year. The Crossrail project is generating enormous volumes of spoil and construction materials.


The Thames Tideway tunnels project is also expected to make significant use of the river for removing spoil and importing construction materials.

The Port of London is strongly positioned, perfectly equipped – and ready for the upturn, as it develops

Doing the maths

The Port of London plays a vital role not just in the nation’s supply chains but also in the national and local economies.

Research completed by SQW Consulting shows that:

  • Port of London terminals and related shipping activities and services generate more than 46,000 full-time jobs;
  • The port contributes a staggering £3.7 billion to the economy every year;
  • Some £4.8 billion of investments are planned within the port over the next ten years.

The wide diversity of cargoes handled through London has been a particularly strong point in the current downturn, with the port not too heavily reliant on one sector. Equally, the jobs linked to the port are hugely varied, including manufacturing workers, cargo handlers, drivers, warehouse staff and ships’ agents.

(Article adapted from the 2010 Port of London Handbook produced by Compass Publications. For copies please contact the PLA Corporate Affairs Team on 01474 562 364, or please use this Enquiry Form).