Canal & River Trust is now making real progress towards their ambition of bringing freight back on to the water and into the city of Leeds.

Having not facilitated a frequent freight movements on the water for over a decade, we are now witnessing the regular transportation of aggregates on the Aire & Calder Navigation, which is a result of participation in the IWTS2.0 project.

Through the project, we have been working with local businesses, barge owners, and freight owners to highlight and remind people of the benefits of moving freight by water. The Aire & Calder is capable of facilitating 500t barges, and the wharf facilities are still available, but over time, stakeholders have been seduced by road transport.

The IWTS2.0 Conference in October 2018 has proved to be quite inspiring in the local area and has stimulated new opportunities which are now being realised.

Through the project, we have brokered new business relationships, resulting in a business based in Maltby, AC Marine Aggregates, to use the Aire & Calder to transport sand dredged from the sea bed in the Humber Estuary to a Canal & River Trust wharf site in Knostrop, Leeds, where it is then forwarded on to support the local construction industry. They are using a local barge operator, Branford Barges to transport the sand. Branford Barges actually attended our conference.

At the time of writing, we have completed nine journeys containing c350t each (over 3,000t in total). As we build momentum, and overcome some teething problems around dredging, we will boost the load to 500t per journey. The plan is to complete two loads per week, up to 1,000t in total (i.e 50,000t per annum). That will meet current demand, but new business enquiries are steadily increasing, so there is confidence this demand will increase over time with good marketing. The equivalent journey by road is 40km, so the tonnes / kilometre calculation will be significant.

The IWTS2.0 project has been integral to this new commercial activity. The project has enabled us to really raise the profile of the waterway and the opportunities it present, and we have created and strengthened relationships with many local stakeholders. We are confident that when we start properly promoting this activity it will generate further interest.


Article written by Stephen Higham, Head of Partner & Outcomes Development, Canal & River Trust, UK