Construction work has started on the UK’s £1.5bn ($2.2bn) London Gateway port project.

The new port in Essex on the Thames estuary will be the first deepwater port built in Europe for 25 years and will handle 3.5 million containers a year after completion.

Owner DP World said the site will be raised by 3m and the wharf, extending up to 600m into the estuary, will be built on reclaimed land.

A total of 23 million square metres of sand and silt, sucked from the estuary bed over the next three years, will be deposited on the Essex mudflats and the old Shell Haven refinery as part of a land reclamation project.

A logistics park, which will offer 9.5million square feet, is set to be built under a separate construction contract.