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For businesses on the Wilton International site, Teesside’s established logistics infrastructure can delivers benefits immediately, and for the long term.
Excellent logistics infrastructure is a key requirement for businesses investing in large-scale industrial facilities. It can also be prohibitively expensive to build from scratch. Which is why it usually makes sense for companies to invest in places where a concentration of industry has already given rise to a complex of freight transport infrastructure and services. In other words, it’s one of the reasons why investing businesses choose to locate within established industrial clusters.
Wilton International is a 2,000-acre site located within one of the largest industrial clusters in the UK – on Teesside. And the area is a case study in how a massive concentration of industrial capacity can lead to the development of a world-class multimodal logistics hub, which then adapts over time to meet industry’s changing needs.
A short history of multimodal logistics on Teesside
A brief look at Teesside’s history helps to explain the area’s highly developed logistics offer to investing businesses.
The area has long been associated with heavy industries, including steel, engineering, chemicals and oil and gas. Steel production required dry-bulk sea freight terminals for coal and iron ore imports, as well as port terminals capable of exporting millions of tons of finished steel and engineered goods.
With the growth of chemicals manufacturing, freight infrastructure developed to enable the movement of both inbound feedstocks and outbound products. At Wilton International, this includes on-site rail sidings and pipelines connecting the site to liquid bulk terminals on the River Tees.
From the 1960s, refineries were built on Teesside to process oil from new fields in the North Sea. Their products too were transported by pipeline to Wilton International’s chemical plants. And from the 1980s, Teesside’s gas processing plant was built to process North Sea natural gas - another resource for Wilton International’s energy-intensive businesses, supplied via the area’s established network of service corridors and pipelines.
In summary, each phase of industrial development further enhanced and integrated Teesside’s multimodal logistics capabilities. Today, through ongoing investment and adaptation, this infrastructure continues to deliver significant commercial value for businesses investing at Wilton International.
The scale and scope of Teesside’s logistics assets
This interactive map shows the scale and scope of Teesside’s logistics assets today – almost entirely located within a 2.5 mile (4km) radius of Wilton International. These include multimodal freight terminals handling various cargo types, and transport corridors linking cluster businesses to each other, and to global markets.
Intermodal connectivity at Wilton International
Current business activities at Wilton International include power generation, chemicals manufacturing, minerals processing and plastics recycling. These facilities are served by one of the UK’s largest private, on-site rail sidings, comprising 26 miles of Bullhead track, with rail links to Teesside’s bulk freight terminals and the UK mainline network.1
For the supply of utilities, feedstocks and products, pipelines connect Wilton International directly to Teesside assets including the port, gas processing plant and liquid bulk terminals. These service corridors are fully owned and controlled by Sembcorp Energy UK, who also supply power and utilities on the Wilton International site. For businesses investing there, this can enable the fast, cost-effective installation of new infrastructure to meet their specific needs.
Teesport – worldwide sea freight connections
Teesport is a major deep-sea port complex – the deepest in England - located right on Wilton International’s doorstep. And its statistics are impressive. The port is now the UK’s fifth largest by tonnage, handling 29 million tonnes of cargo per year (2020), including containers, ro-ro, dry bulk, liquid bulk, project cargoes and metals.2, 3
In a changing business environment, Teesport has been highly responsive to the needs of customers across diverse industry sectors. As well as Wilton International-based chemicals companies like SABIC, Alpek and Huntsman, the port’s client base includes recent inward investors to the North East like Hitachi Rail UK, and firms in the region’s high-growth renewable energy sector. Teesport has successfully risen to the challenge of Covid-19, too. Between 2019 and 2020, it was the only major UK port to increase handled tonnage (+4% versus -9% overall for the UK’s major ports).2
Most importantly, Teesport provides businesses at Wilton International with reliable, flexible sea freight connectivity. The port receives around 26 vessel calls per week, including short sea, deep sea and hub feeder services to European and global destinations.3
Dry and liquid bulk freight terminals
Teesside’s bulk freight terminals offer the capacity to support large-scale industrial investments on the Wilton International site.
Redcar Bulk Terminal is one of the deepest and best-located dry bulk terminals in the UK, with a quay length of 320 metres and capacity to handle 15 million tonnes of freight per annum. The terminal is connected by rail to both Wilton International and the UK’s national freight network.2, 4
Sembcorp Energy UK’s pipeline network links Wilton International directly to liquid bulk storage terminals on the North Bank of the River Tees, operated by Navigator and Exolum. Bespoke pipeline and storage solutions, for products including oils, chemicals, biofuels and liquefied gases, can potentially be provided by Sembcorp Energy UK and the terminal operators.
Covering the basics – road and air connectivity
It should be noted that Wilton International has the transport basics covered too.
By road, the A66 and A19 provide fast access to the UK motorway network, while a central location (north-south) enables fast access to the UK’s major industrial centres within 4 1⁄2 hours’ HGV drive time (1 driver shift).5
By air, Teesside International Airport, located less than 30 minutes from Wilton International, delivers the global connectivity required by international businesses. Loganair provides 3 x daily hub-feeder services to London Heathrow, enabling seamless onward connections to global destinations with partners including British Airways, KLM, Air France, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines and Qatar Airways. Other key routes from Teesside include frequent KLM services to Amsterdam and 2 x daily Eastern Airways services to Aberdeen.6
Multimodal benefits for investing businesses
There’s no doubt, therefore, that companies investing at Wilton International can benefit from highly developed, multimodal logistics infrastructure and connectivity. But what does that really mean in terms of business benefits?
Firstly, it can mean reduced investment project costs, timeframes and risk. By utilising established infrastructure, new assets don’t need to be funded, approved and built.
Secondly, it can mean reduced operational costs. A choice of transport solutions means that the lowest cost mode, or mix of modes, can be selected at any given time. Meanwhile, competition between modes can keep freight costs down.
Thirdly, it can mean reduced business risk. Access to multiple transport modes helps to maintain supply chain integrity, and can ‘future proof’ companies against cost fluctuations.
And last, but certainly not least, it can enable improved environmental standards, because the lowest-CO2 of multiple transport modes can be selected.
It takes a long time, and a huge collective effort, to build an industrial and logistics complex like the one found on Teesside. But for businesses joining the cluster, the commercial benefits can be substantial, immediate and for the long term.Industrial Cluster Logistics and Connectivity