Freight News, Sea

Port workers are key workers too, says BPA chief

[ August 12, 2020   //   ]

Port people are the UK’s hidden key workers and had played a vital role in keeping the country going during the covid crisis, British Ports Association chairman Martin Lawlor told the organisation’s annual general meeting, held by video link on 12 August.

He praised the sector’s resilience and critical role it had played in keeping goods such as food and medicines moving during the pandemic

He said: “Most parts of the industry have had an understandably difficult year – demand has fallen away but many ports have remained open to facilitate critical freight. Such uncertainty has put a great deal of strain on the sector and at times like this, a good and close relationship with administrations across the UK has been vital in communicating our needs to those in power.”

He added: “There has been a lot of talk about a green recovery, and the ports industry recognises that in these difficult times there is an opportunity to rebuild better. The next 12 months will in all likelihood be harder than the last 12, with an uncertain economic situation and the biggest change to our trade and border framework in a generation… There is a growing and long-overdue recognition of the foundational role ports can play in supporting regional and national economies and we will continue to advance the sector’s positive influence at every opportunity.”

BPA also elected a new cuncil was elected to set its strategy and oversee its work for the next two years. For the first time Associated British Ports (ABP), the UK’s largest port operator, will be on the Council after it recently joined the BPA as a full member. ABP’s short sea and Welsh ports director Andrew Harston will represent the group. He will be joined by Joe O’Neil, the chief executive of Belfast Harbour, Bill Reeves, the chief executive of Portland Port and Sinclair Browne, chief executive of the Port of Inverness, who all join what is in effect the BPA’s board.

Lawlor said: “The BPA will need to respond to a number of developments, including the Coronavirus recovery, the sustainability and how ports move towards net zero targets. Major changes will also come from new Freeport designations and the UK’s departure from the EU.”

Tags: ,