UK ports to press government on freeports


THE British Ports Association has called for an early meeting with new maritime minister Kelly Tolhurst to present its latest briefing paper on the future of UK ports.

The BPA’s 2020 New Government Briefing outlines how industry and government can work in partnership to deliver for ports and fuel a successful economy.

“As the new government takes shape, the briefing paper outlines the leading topical issues that the UK ports industry is currently facing,” the BPA said.

The briefing paper outlines the ports organisation’s requests to the government to utilise ports to “recharge” the UK economy.

These include the adoption of a freeports strategy, priority funding for infrastructure projects, streamlined planning and consent, and UK content rules for offshore wind developments.

“The BPA has called for maximum ambition in introducing freeports and for them to include new tax, planning and development rules,” the briefing says.

“These zones could be overlaid with customs-free zone designations that support sustainable port development and wider economic activity, allowing ports to fast-track developments and have certainty about future activities.”

If UK ports were to compete with their European counterparts, the government must push forward with freeports and fast-track planning decisions and limit the impacts of environmental designations, it added.

“With the right conditions, ports can further grow the economy and push regions forward.”

Given the current opportunities for port development, planners would also need to prioritise port transport and infrastructure requirements.

“Although the UK has a strong motorway network, good connectivity can be seriously compromised by the inadequacy of a port’s local infrastructure links,” the briefing said.

“Despite some new investments, the UK has particularly limited public spending on transport infrastructure in comparison with our main industrial competitors.”

BPA chief executive Richard Ballantyne said: “The next five years are pivotal for ports as this parliamentary term represents a real moment of opportunity to re-charge the sector.

“Ports are at the heart of the infrastructure that allows Britain to remain outward facing and trade as a global player on the world stage. This briefing paper offers the government an agenda to strengthen key policy areas, allowing the ports industry to grow stronger than ever.

“As well as collaborating on the sustainable agenda for the industry and working towards net-zero emissions in shipping, this paper highlights what the ports industry needs from government to flourish, ultimately to the benefit of the entire nation.”