Vital freight materials needed for flagship projects such as the Leeds South Bank and High Speed 2 could be delivered into the city by water rather than road if a £3.4m “inland port” scheme gets the go-ahead.
The new wharf facility proposed in the Stourton area would allow non-perishable freight such as aggregates, timber, oil and steel to be moved from the Humber estuary via the Aire and Calder Navigation, the canal sections of the Rivers Aire and Calder.
The development on three acres of land owned by the Canal and River Trust would include a concrete apron with 80 metres of thick boards known as ‘sheet piling’ for boats to moor against, as well as dredging of the waterway to make it easier to navigate.
The trust, which is behind the project, aims to complete the construction 18 months from funding being formally awarded and move 200,000 tonnes of freight from road to water in the first year.
The project has outline planning permission, but this expired in April so the trust hopes to submit another application next month, in the hope that it will approved by October.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority has agreed to move the scheme forward, meaning an outline business case, and provide £3.17m in funding once a costed full business case has been prepared. The Canal and Rivers Trust is providing match funding of £200,000.
A report says water-borne freight “has been in decline since the proliferation of motorways, which quickly became a more commercially viable opportunity for freight carriers”. It said: “Due to increased congestion, however, freight on water is again becoming an attractive proposition for certain goods.”