First barge of aggregate docks at Knostrop wharf

A 500 tonnes capacity barge arrived at Knostrop yesterday (23 September 2020) marking the first load of a new service carrying marine dredged aggregates from Hull to Leeds.

This is the culmination of many years’ hard work by various groups. It started with Leeds City Council’s minerals planning policy decision to safeguard from unsuitable developments a number of wharves in the City, including ones at Knostrop and at Stourton so they could be used to unload aggregates and other cargoes. Behind this lay a wish to see more use of marine dredged aggregates in Leeds and West Yorkshire rather than from inland quarries with consequential road haulage.

The use of marine dredged aggregates (from the North Sea) is a sustainable activity as nature replenished the deposits at sea. Not so with land based supplies.

The use of 500 tonne capacity barges and thus avoiding using heavy vehicles from inland quarries will be beneficial for the environment. Each barge will take 18 articulated lorries, each carrying 28 tonnes, off the crowded M62. Barges emit 75% less CO2 than heavy lorries. They cause less dust and less noise than lorries. Barges can help Leeds City Council in its efforts to improve air pollution and improve the well-being of its citizens.

The combination of using marine dredged aggregates and of using barges for transport to Leeds is a win-win for the environment. With increased construction activity expected in Leeds and West Yorkshire, this is a very good time to be using barges to bring aggregates and other construction materials into Leeds.

David Lowe, Commercial Boat Operators Association (CBOA) chairman said:

“We have worked hard with Leeds City Council planners to create the basis for increased use by barges of the waterways of Leeds and the surrounding area. Today is the realisation of many years’ efforts. We are delighted that the use of barges creates the opportunity to reduce air pollution in Leeds by negating the need for HGVs and improve the well-being of its citizens. The proposed inland Port of Leeds at Stourton will increase the opportunities for more barge use.”

Andy Collins of AC Marine Aggregates Ltd, the company whose aggregates have been brought to Leeds, said

“The use of barges from Hull means we can enter a new market for us – the area around Leeds and into West Yorkshire. We have been bringing sea dredged aggregates into Hull for some years to serve the local markets. We are grateful to the CBOA and their member firms for enabling us to turn into a reality our hopes to improve the environment by using “green” transport and extending the use of aggregates from a sustainable source.”

Barge unloading aggregate at Knostrop Photo: Maik Brown

The area being used at Knostrop is about one-tenth of an acre and is seen as a temporary phase. The Canal & River Trust’s wider ambitions are to see the development of a 10 acre site at Stourton in South Leeds. Full planning permission has been obtained and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority have offered £3.17m towards the costs. The Trust is now seeking the balance of the funds required. The business plan is based on moving 200, 000 tonnes a year of marine aggregates – the equivalent of 8 barges a week.


This post is based on a press release issued by Commercial Boat Operators Association

Photo: ‘Farndale H‘ on the Aire and Calder Navigation at Whitley Bridge, loaded with Grit Sand for AC Aggregates, en route to Knostrop Wharf, Leeds (Maik Brown)


2 Replies to “First barge of aggregate docks at Knostrop wharf”

  1. It is about time that more use was made of the network of canals that are extant in Britain. As the article states barges are much more economical and less polluting than lorries. Leeds is ideally placed to take both the lead and advantage of this. We have, via the Leeds Liverpool Canal and the subsidiary canals, such as the Aire and Calder Navigation, to serve the needs of most of West Yorkshire as well as Lancashire as well as utilising the direct link between Hull and Liverpool.

    This service could be extended by having other goods transported by barge via the use of containers etc. This would, of course, lead to the need for building distribution depots beside the canals which would be built on the existing ‘Brown Field’ sites thus saving valuable Green Belt areas. In fact goods could be offloaded direct onto barges from ships at both Hull and Liverpool thus cutting out the need for even more lorries transporting goods along the already overcrowded Motorways and A roads. This would seriously cut down on the total amount of pollution generated by lorries etc. and with new technology the barges could be powered by either electricity or be Hydrogen powered thus cutting down even more on pollutants.

    1. As someone that lives on a boat this could go one of two ways.

      Very busy canals making life for live aboard boaters unpleasant due to noise, pollution, and the surf of huge passing barges.

      On the other hand some money put back into the canal systems could see some much wanted improvements.

      But being the skeptic I I’m I’d assume the businesses operating on the waters wouldn’t care much for the people living on the waterways.

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