The UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG), the voice for the UK’s largest port operators, responded to commitments on infrastructure development in party manifestos and announced the major ports sector’s priorities for a new government.
Ensuring that coastal communities receive their fair share of infrastructure spending and delivering on ports priorities would give the UK stronger gateways for trade post Brexit and boost prosperity and opportunity in the UK’s often hard-hit coastal regions.
Responding to commitments made by all political parties to infrastructure investment Tim Morris, CEO of UKMPG, said: “Major ports welcome the cross-party consensus on the importance of boosting infrastructure investment in the UK. World class physical and digital infrastructure is an essential foundation for a high value economy.
“But it’s crucial that coastal regions get their fair share of this investment. Research has shown that coastal communities often suffer high levels of socio-economic hardship. But there is huge potential in these areas which can be unlocked with the right investment. Politicians need to move on from just the usual ‘north vs south’ soundbites and address the deeply worrying coastal divide.”
Morris continued “A refocusing on realising this potential also puts the UK in the best shape post Brexit. Whatever shape Brexit takes, stronger global gateways such as the ports handling 95% of UK trade are a no-lose move for the UK.
“The recent debate about freeports has highlighted a number of important ways of boosting investment in port areas and regenerating coastal communities. Freeports are potentially transformational in the right circumstances but many of the elements of a successful freeport – such as planning zones and skills development – are good for many locations and such be pursued by all parties.”
The UKMPG’s ‘Setting a course for stronger ports’ manifesto highlights the major contribution the port’s sector makes to the UK already:
Handling 95% of the UK’s physical trade with the world.
Contributing £9.7 billion of value itself to the UK economy.
Employing 115 000 people directly all around the coast of the UK with 7x that number in supply chains.
Investing more than £600 million every year in UK coastal infrastructure.
Providing the hubs for a wide range of other economic activity, from renewable energy to film studios.
The manifesto goes on to highlight five key priorities for an incoming government of any party to boost this contribution even further:
Working with ports and others to develop skills and talent for the next generation of maritime jobs.
Connecting ports and coastal regions better with inland centres of business and population both physically and digitally.
Having planning and development rules that do more to encourage responsible investment in and around ports.
Providing infrastructure to allow zero emissions solutions.
Embedding trade as an enduring priority into policy and regulation.
Commenting on the launch of the ‘Setting a course for stronger ports’ manifesto Tim Morris, CEO of UKMPG, said “The UK’s major ports are vital for all of us. They boost trade, benefiting the whole economy. They can play a key role in transforming often hard-hit coastal communities for the better. And they are important enablers for a more sustainable future. The priorities we’re setting out today for an incoming Government of whatever make-up are the right ones to boost these huge contributions further.”