BPA Chair calls for return to stability

BPA Chair calls for return to stability

 The British Ports Association’s new chairman, Martin Lawlor, has called for a return to stability and a relentless focus on building a business environment that supports investment and skills.

Speaking to MPs, Peers and industry representatives at the BPA’s Annual Reception at the House of Commons, Mr Lawlor, who is also Chief Executive of the Port of Blyth, said: “The British Ports Association would now like to see a return to stability. Soon the country will have a new leader, and we hope Brexit will be resolved soon after that. We must then have a relentless focus on ensuring that the business environment is one where businesses can invest and grow, with access to the skills they need.

“We are not just enablers of trade but the foundation of the entire blue economy, supporting the safe navigation of vessels, from jet skis to oil tankers and doing so independently and at no cost to the taxpayer.

“Shipping remains the most efficient way to move freight – whether it be from Brazil to the UK or from England to Scotland. We are part of the solution to climate change, not part of the problem.

“That's why we want to explore how moving freight by water can help the UK meet its climate change targets, whilst at the same time supporting coastal prosperity. Two thirds of the UK live within 10 miles of the coast and we have a large number of world-class ports to support this aim.”

Responding to recent global developments regarding the use of open-loop scrubbers, Mr Lawlor also warned that the ports industry is becoming increasingly concerned about the potential for contamination building up in berths and navigation channels.

Commenting on the ongoing debate, he called for robust evidence to be brought forward to allay these fears: “Ports take their environmental responsibilities seriously and with IMO targets ships will have some tough decisions. However, we must have a grown up conversation about the implications of the use of open loop scrubbers in ports. There is a concern that such systems could lead to the build-up of contaminated sediments which over time could cause a real issue for ports wishing to maintain and develop their operations.”

Harry Theochari, Chairman of Maritime UK, also addressed the meeting. Mr Theochari, who is also global head of transport at law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, highlighted research for the BPA which found £1.7 billion of port infrastructure investment is in the pipeline and called on the Government to ensure it does its part by supporting better port connectivity and a better planning system. He went on to say that the industry must capitalise on the increased profile of the sector.

The BPA represents the interests of more than 100 port members, covering more than 350 ports, terminal operators and port facilities.