Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Freight Transport Association Welcomes New Ports Strategy

NPS Should Clear Slow Planning Problems
Shipping News Feature

UK – The British government’s National Policy Statements (NPS) for ports, which was released on Friday and is designed to provide a clear framework for both port developers and the new Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) for future infrastructure in England and Wales, has been warmly welcomed by a leading UK industry body.

In a statement the Freight Transport Association (FTA) said that it “…has welcomed the Department for Transport’s (DfT) long-awaited National Policy Statement for ports. The [FTA] believes that the draft statement should pave the way for much-needed port development, thereby securing a brighter future for the UK’s economy.”

Christopher Snelling, Head of Global Supply Chain Policy for FTA, said:

“It is very pleasing that this document recognises the importance of improved port infrastructure in making the UK a good place to do business. It correctly projects that massively increased container capacity will be required by the UK in the years to come.

“Particularly pleasing is the recognition that capacity should ideally be greater than the level of demand. This would help make UK port operations more competitive and provide greater resilience in the UK supply chain when disruption occurs.”

Snelling also noted that this document is welcome as the first of the new National Policy Statements to be issued under the new planning regime. He added:

“Up until now the planning process has been painfully slow – something which benefits neither local residents nor developers. It took the port of Southampton seven years and £45m to get a decision on a previous development plan – that is bad for everyone.

“Hopefully these new statements, which set out what kind of development the UK requires, along with the new Infrastructure Planning Commission, which can make decisions on nationally significant projects, will help improve this situation and allow us to play catch-up with the rest of Europe.”

The NPS states that in the last 40 years freight traffic through UK ports increased by three quarters, with ports in England and Wales handling 442 million tonnes of goods in 2008 alone. This, according to the report, represents about 95% of the total volume of UK trade, and 75% of its value.

As a result the NPS recognises that shipping will continue to provide the only effective way to move the vast majority of freight in and out of the UK and the provision of sufficient sea port capacity will remain an essential element in ensuring sustainable growth in the UK economy.

By clearing the uncertainties around port development, the NPS is hoped to encourage future, sustainable development and trade for the UK.