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Burdens barges in for Olympic delivery plan

NEWS - Waterways proposed for materials supply to cut heavy vehicle road deliveries

BUILDERS' merchant Burdens met Olympic Delivery Authority chief executive David Higgins on Tuesday to outline plans to move hundreds of thousands of tonnes of materials by waterways for the construction programme.

The company wants to use its Picketts Lock base in Enfield, north London, as a depot for transporting materials to the east London Olympic Park site five miles away using the River Lea.

Burdens said Picketts Lock is within easy reach of the national motorway network, and that using 100 tonne barges could assuage environmentalists by saving thousands of heavy vehicle visits to the site.

Sales director Chris Slezakowski said: 'The stretch of water which would be used is non-tidal so deliveries could be made at any time.

'You will never eliminate road usage but each barge could carry as much as five trucks. We would be looking to cover our costs and show a return to shareholders but there is the prestige of being involved in the Olympic project.' The plan is supported by Transport for London and British Waterways.

If the plans are given the go-ahead, a fleet of barges will have to be commissioned or newly built at the cost of around £100,000 each.

Mr Slezakowski added: 'Construction work is due to get into full swing in the middle of the next year, and it would take six to eight months to put the plans into action, so the time to decide is now.' The Construction Products Association highlighted the movement of materials to site as a key issue in an Olympic briefing for members last week.

Economics director Allen Wilen played down the risks of inf lated materials prices in the approach to 2012, estimating overall workloads would account for less than 3 per cent of London's industry output even at the peak of construction work in 2010.

Mr Wilen said: 'The direct impact of the games will be modest overall, even for the capital. We are unlikely to see material shortages, capacity constraints or product inflation.' He warned that a bigger concern for construction businesses would be spiralling energy costs, which the association fears could add £90 million to the cost of the Games.