Given that Associated British Ports’ four ports on the Humber of Goole, Grimsby, Hull and Immingham already handle around 17 per cent of the nation’s trade, it should come as little surprise that ABP Humber played a hugely significant role in keeping Britain functioning during the Covid crisis. However, as the signs of recovery continue, ABP is looking ahead to what new opportunities are on the horizon for the North of England’s gateway to trade.
For much of the last two years, ABP have been running a ‘Think Humber’ campaign, making the case for traders and logistics operators to consider switching trade routes from congested ports in the South of England to the Humber. The campaign was backed up by an academic report produced by the University of Hull, which showed that if just 10 per cent of traffic currently coming through the Port of Dover switched to the Humber, it would reduce annual carbon emissions by 100,000 tonnes.
Strong message to local business
At its core the campaign has had a simple message for traders: if you are bringing goods to and from the North or the Midlands, it is cheaper, faster and better for the environment to use the Humber rather than the South East.
It is the container market where the fruits of this effort are most likely to be seen. Based on that market analysis, three years ago ABP committed a £60 million investment to expand and enhance its two container terminals in Hull and Immingham.
The Hull investment, which was completed first, was quick to see the results and within six months the terminal had gone from five sailings per week to 15, bringing new customers and new destinations to Hull. Similarly, the Immingham investment was completed in the autumn of 2020 and has already seen a significant increase in the work of the terminal.
Three good examples of this from the last few months include the announcement of the new Visea container service bringing trade to and from four new destinations in Norway, the WEC Lines announcement of a new Immingham to Bilbao weekly service and an exciting new venture linking Immingham to China via a rail link with Kaliningrad.
With more new services actively in discussions, we can see enormous potential for the growth in trade between the Humber, Europe and the rest of the World.
This growth can only be further enhanced by the Humber’s newly established Freeport status. Following the announcement of the success of the bid in March, partners from across the Humber are currently in the process of setting up a new company limited by guarantee to run the Freeport. The project will bring around 7,000 new jobs to the Humber in new manufacturing and distribution facilities in Hull, Goole, Killingholme and Immingham. Each of those facilities will lead to a significant expansion of trade coming through the Humber, especially in containers.
Amidst all the understandable concern for our economy through Covid, we can faithfully report that the Humber Ports have some very exciting times ahead, with tangible prospects for growth and investment, creating new employment opportunities for many across our region. Exciting times ahead.
Simon Bird is Director, Humber, of Associated British Ports Director