British Ports Association Welcomes Government’s ‘Maritime 2050’ Strategy

The British Ports Association has welcomed the Government’s Maritime 2050 strategy, published today by the Department for Transport. This sets out the Government’s maritime vision over the next three decades.

BPA Chief Executive, Richard Ballantyne, said: We welcome this ambitious strategy and the Government’s confidence and aspirations for the UK’s innovative and important maritime sector.

As an island nation with a proud maritime heritage it is important that Government is not complacent in setting out what it can do to support the sector over the next three decades by encouraging more young people to see the immense value in maritime careers and building and maintaining a business environment where our independent and commercially-run ports can continue to innovate and invest.

Many of the measures announced are short term but will lay the foundation for a more stable and productive industry in the medium and long term.

Whilst we note the lack of specific funding for some projects, we welcome the Government’s intent in taking forward some important projects including the full implementation of the Port Connectivity Study in England and the new ‘Port Economic Partnerships’, which we are keen to learn more about. We hope that these partnerships will offer a vehicle for turning the industry’s Port Enterprise and Development Zones into reality.

We are also pleased to see some overlap with our own Port Futures programme particularly around smart and autonomous shipping and ports.

We look forward to working with and supporting the Government as it builds on this strategy in the months and years to come. We are keen to make progress in the areas identified and get going on a range of issues, from promoting a more innovative planning framework to increasing diversity and mapping the seabed – which will support better environmental and planning decisions as well as facilitating growth in marine industries.
The Strategy has a range of chapters covering the background of maritime sector, future/economic trends, the UK’s competitive maritime advantage, technology, people, environment, trade, infrastructure, safety and security & resilience.

The port-specific aspects of the Strategy will also be packaged into a separate Ports Action Plan. The actions include (s,ml, indicate the short, medium or long term timeframe):

  • a refresh of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 (short term)
  • development of a Safety Action Plan for the maritime sector and roll out Maritime Safety Week (short term)
  • demonstrations and legal work on autonomous shipping and ports (short, medium, and long term)
  • development of a Maritime Innovation Hub in a port and a network of regional R&D clusters in ports (medium and long term)
  • a study on the Future of Navigation (short term)
  • UK to fully chart its own seabed and EEZ (medium term)
  • moves towards single industry body to promote maritime careers probably under Maritime UK (short term)
  • promote diversity in the maritime sector (short term)
  • better rights/minimum wage for seafarers (short term)
  • roll out of air quality plan strategy for major ports, reduced emissions from shipping and focus on green energy (short, medium, and long term)
  • UK to ratify IMO conventions on ballast water and ship recycling (short term)
  • review of climate change adaptation measures for larger ports (short term)
  • promote international trade deals and exports (short, medium, and long term)
  • production of research on viability and desirability of free ports (short term)
  • explore possibilities of artic shipping routes (short term)
  • consider funding availability and ‘market failure’ issues for ports (short term)
  • review the DfT’s port master planning guidance (short term)
  • possible review of the National Planning Statement for Ports (short term)
  • a programme of ‘Port Economic Partnerships’ which we hope might be good fit with the BPA’s ‘Port Enterprise and Development Zones’ concept (short term)
  • look at future port infrastructure models such as floating offshore facilities (medium term)
  • long term aspiration for commercial land around ports to be in use of have plans (long term)
  • work on transport investment planning frameworks (long term)
  • full implementation of the Port Connectivity Study (short term)
  • an annual seminar to showcase maritime and technology best practice (short term)
  • promote port centric development with presumption of support for schemes (medium term)
  • explore evidence for long term dedicated freight routes (long term)
  • maritime can work with other sectors such as energy and tourism (short term)
  • promote opportunities from offshore activities (medium term)
  • long term aspiration for small ports to embrace technological changes (long term)
  • a range of security and resilience points including focus on protecting ports from severe weather threats and technology to improve port efficiency (short, medium, and long term)

The document highlights the importance of the maritime sector and promotes it to the general public and other parts of Government. The BPA is keen to support this initiative in any way it can and build upon the foundations it lays. The industry will welcome the ambition and we are ready to work with Government as they gear up to try and meet all the commitments in the strategy, especially given much of the Government’s current focus is firmly on Brexit planning.

The Department for Transport has also published long term UK Port Freight Traffic forecasts alongside the report, up to 2050.

Maritime 2050 can be found here.

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