‘If it’s jobs or emissions, I choose jobs’ says MP

STRICT new pollution controls will cost jobs, hit tourism and almost double the fuel costs of ships operating from the East Coast, businesses have warned.

Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce’s Shipping Committee has written to Transport Minister Mike Penning to raise concerns over the impact of tougher limits on sulphur emissions on ships operating out of the Humber.

The chamber, which represents businesses including Associated British Ports, GXD Logistics and Finnlines UK Ltd, said the new legislation, aimed at bringing shipping in line with rules for other forms of transport like road haulage, could have a serious impact on the economy.

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P&O Ferries said earlier this year that job losses would be inevitable as a result of the changes due to come in 2015, with Hull and other ports on longer sailing routes particularly badly affected.

The chamber said the “last thing the UK needs is another tax which will disproportionately hit UK northern-based manufacturers over and above our central European competitors.”

Graham Cross, of GXD Logistics and Chair of the Chamber’s Shipping Committee said increased costs would not only affect ship operators, but businesses exporting goods. He said: “We estimate that the introduction of the 0.1 per cent sulphur fuel will lead to increases in fuel costs of up to 87 per cent for ships operating in Emissions Control Areas off the southern and eastern coasts.”

The committee underlined warnings saying ferry operators would have to pass on the cost to customers or cut services.

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East Hull Labour MP Karl Turner said: “The industry needs more time to come to terms and plan for this change. The Government, the industry and the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union should be working together. The Minister accepted this when we spoke a week prior to recess. If this comes down to emissions or jobs as the MP for East Hull, where for every vacancy there are 33 chasing jobs, then I choose jobs.

“North Sea Ferries say it will impact so much that they may have to call it a day with one ferry, so I must take that seriously.”

Steve Todd, national secretary of the RMT,said: “If the industry is forced to change in such a way that the regulations are saying, it would be delivering another blow, such as the (building of the) Channel Tunnel or the removal of duty free, which was a devastating blow to the industry. There has to be some financial help available from Europe. They want the regulations, they need to stump up the money to help them change.”

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