The British Ports Association, which represents more than 100 of the UK’s ports, terminal operators and port facilities, has outlined some of the key challenges and opportunities facing the ports sector over the next 12 months.
While Brexit continues to loom large, BPA said potential new border controls, changes to environmental and regulatory rules and a new fisheries policy will remain major themes for the industry in 2019.
Port sector promotion, increased public transport investment, planning/consenting improvements and issues around people and safety will be priorities for all ports across the UK, it added.
Outlining the organisation’s key aims on Brexit, BPA Chief Executive Richard Ballantyne (pictured) said: “UK ports provides important international gateways for goods and passengers and it is essential that the industry features highly in the Government’s Brexit considerations. This is particularly important to pro-trade facilitation measures in relation to any new border control processes at British ports and especially at the UK’s network of Roll-on Roll-off ferry ports which facilitate much of the UK’s European trade.”
The BPA has recently been promoting a ‘Port Zoning’ policy which the BPA will be looking to evidence and provide further analysis on during 2019.
Ballantyne continued: “The BPA’s Port Development and Enterprise Zone concept is our vision is for areas around ports to be classified with a special planning, consenting, business and regulatory status to help stimulate port development and growth. The idea could see the growth of a network of regional hubs around port and coastal locations across the UK.”
He continued: “Ports themselves are often in areas of deprivation and economic need. Business, enterprise and skills incentives could be designed to help ports, tenants and connected businesses. Many of the rules in relation to environmental legislation and consenting stem from the EU and the BPA is encouraging policymakers to review how ports and coastal developers are regulated. There will also be opportunities to reach outside the industry and build in ‘Free Port’ free trade area designations into this where appropriate.”
Highlighting the opportunity this presents, Ballantyne said: “Ports rely on good hinterland connections but in recent years much of the public investment in transport has been allocated to passenger schemes. Last year the Department for Transport published its Port Connectivity Study, which was an excellent initiative assessing the transport needs of English ports.
“In 2019 we will be pressing the Government to prioritise transport spending on issues identified in the study and encouraging the devolved administrations around the UK to consider similar initiatives. This covers links to major transport arteries in the Road Investment Strategy and particular challenges such as ‘last mile’ connections to ports.
BPA said it’s working closely with the National Infrastructure Commission on the development of its freight study as well as the the Scottish National Transport Strategy Review, which it hopes will lead to renewed focus on freight in terms of transport policy. Alongside this, BPA will be encouraging Government to put in place a new coastal shipping policy.
The Department for Transport is also expected to publish the results of its Maritime 2050 review later this year which looks at the future of the maritime sector out to 2050, so this and the ongoing BPA Port Futures programme will provide opportunities for the BPA to highlight the role that ports play in the future of the UK maritime sector.
BPA will also be examining safety and skills at ports during 2019, supporting the industry body Port Skills and Safety which leads on training and landside safety issues for ports, as well as undertaking promotional work to highlight the role that port employees undertake, including the launch of a new ‘People in Ports’ initiative that will explore the different roles that ports provide and highlight examples from individuals who undertake various jobs at various types of ports around the UK.
“101,000 people are employed by UK ports and we are keen to highlight the variety roles they undertake and share their personal experiences,” Ballantyne added.
In terms of maritime safety, the BPA recently called on the international shipping industry to encourage action on recurring issues such as defective pilot ladders and dangerously weighted heaving lines.
Ballantyne is hopeful that in 2019 there is progress overcoming these and other issues such as the ‘definition of a ship’ legal anomaly to aid enforcement of personal watercraft inside ports and the end of the exemption for drink drive alcohol limits for non-professional mariners.
In recent years environmental issues have become important features on the political agenda. BPA priorities this year will be working with Government regulators on challenges some ports face in respect to consenting in designated areas and new air quality reporting requirements for ports. The UK ports industry will also have to prepare for the introduction of the bureaucratic European Port Services Regulation, despite the UK’s imminent departure from the EU.
The BPA, which represents all of the top UK fishing ports, will be looking to encourage policy makers to ensure new quota rules include obligations to land fish into the UK to allow fishing communities and industries around UK ports to thrive. A new UK Fisheries Bill, it added, will provide the framework for a new fisheries policy that will allow this to happen.
Finally, BPA said it will further roll-out its regional governance and duty holder training sessions on issues such as safety and strategy for all types of ports as well as facilitating internal industry benchmarking initiatives.
Posted on: January 9th 2019