More capacity is needed on the road and rail networks that serve the nation’s ports if they are to cope with the “considerable challenge” caused by a predicted growth in demand, according to a Government report.
Officials hope the study of ‘port connectivity’, launched at the British Port Association annual members lunch today, will help influence funding, policy and planning decisions by highlighting the importance of England’s harbours and their global trade links.
These changes...present profound opportunity but also a considerable challenge to ensuring the national transport network which serves our ports is capable of dealing with new demands and facilitating the economic growth they will bring.Government study into port connectivity
It highlighted the fact that around 95 per cent of all goods entering and leaving the UK are moved by sea, and that the UK port sector contributes £1.7bn to the UK economy.
Among the biggest contributors are the Humber ports, at Goole, Hull, Grimsby and Immingham, which provide £620m in gross value added and 8,400 jobs, a tenth of the national total.
The report said port and freight markets are changing, with new commodities replacing core bulk freight markets like coal which do not necessarily travel on the same road or rail routes or to the same destinations.
It said government forecasts predicted container traffic would grow by 178 per cent between 2004 and 2030, with total port tonnage for the UK also forecast to grow substantially.
The report said: “These changes...present profound opportunity but also a considerable challenge to ensuring the national transport network which serves our ports is capable of dealing with new demands and facilitating the economic growth they will bring.
“Ports are investing many billions in their own infrastructure to ensure larger ships and volumes can be accommodated to maintain the UK, as a key destination for maritime services despite strong global competition.
“It is therefore vital there is appropriate capacity on our road and rail networks, to and from our international gateway ports, to meet this demand.”
James Cooper, chairman of the UK Major Ports Group, said: “The port connectivity study is very welcome. UK Major Ports Group members invest more than half a billion pounds a year in UK ports and infrastructure but for the UK to maximise the value of this investment for the nation these ports need to be well connected to the rest of the economy.
“As the UK nears Brexit, it’s vital that there is a focus on ensuring that we have the right infrastructure to enable trade. The study’s recognition of the need to take a joined up, multi modal approach to key trade enabling freight corridors anchored on major ports is particularly welcome.”