As the UK's largest port operator, the group has had the opportunity to develop expertise and competence in a range of activities connected to port development and operations. In some cases we have identified opportunities to use port capacity to expand the group's portfolio, e.g. with the development of marinas for the leisure industry at four of our ports. These facilities have been awarded some of the highest accolades in the leisure boating industry.
In terms of people, ABP had a pool of professionals with expertise in marine environmental research but, with increasing pressures both regulatory and environmental, opportunities became available to develop this wealth of knowledge into what is today ABPmer, the UK's leading marine consultancy, which now offers its services to other port companies in the UK and beyond.
The company's involvement at Hams Hall Railfreight Terminal in the West Midlands is another natural progression of using a core competence, with the result that today Hams Hall is the busiest inland rail terminal in the UK because of its dedication to service - again reflected in the number of awards the terminal and its staff have received from the rail industry at large. It has also been used as a case study by the Department for Transport as a benchmark in rail terminal operations.
Finally, UK Dredging has become the largest independent UK-owned dredging operation serving the needs of not only ABP ports but also providing dredging services to other port operating companies in the UK and beyond. The success of UK Dredging is reflected in the £16 million investment by ABP in 2010 in the commissioning of the trailing suction hopper dredger, UKD Orca, increasing the fleet to six vessels.