Freight News, Sea

Ports look forward to a happier new year

[ January 4, 2021   //   ]

The New Year could see a bounce back from the problems that affected the UK and global economy on 2020, says the British Ports Association (BPA) which is also calling for its workers to be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine.

BPA sees the UK’s new trading relationship with the EU bedding in and the mass roll-out of the coronavirus vaccine beginning.

Chief executive, Richard Ballantyne, said: “Ports can definitely be part of the solution as the country recovers. The government has been clear about aspirations for its ‘levelling up’ agenda which will include a freeports strategy but we expect to see another stimulus as well. Freeports is just one tool which will only target a limited number of particular locations. We will be encouraging policy makers to look at other mechanisms which will benefit all regions in respect to infrastructure and the regulatory environment.”

He added that ports are now looking to support the government’s long term net zero targets and that BPA would be recruiting a new sustainability advisor to help navigate the environment and energy transition agenda. There will be a renewed focus on modal shift such as increased rail freight opportunities and coastal shipping.

The latter has been neglected as a policy area by the government over the last ten years, said BPA.

With the UK’s departure from the EU, there is also an opportunity to have a fresh look at freight support grants “which have been woeful in both uptake and allocation in terms of coastal shipping”.

The new regulatory regime means that the UK can now design a policy framework that better enables ports of all type to flourish and grow, Ballantyne continued: “This is not about ripping up environmental rules or safety standards, but is about looking for ways to create a more responsive framework that enables ports to be agile in attracting new investment and to grow and support jobs and local communities.

“As well as speeding up planning rules, there will be opportunities to remove legislation such as the EU Port Services Regulation and also replace sources of infrastructure funding such as TEN-T and fisheries grants so that our regional transport and port infrastructure is competitive.”