The British Ports Association has set out its agenda for UK ports over the next 12 months alongside reflections on successes in 2021.
Reducing emissions and supporting biodiversity will remain high on the industry’s agenda as government regulation continues to grow. We expect significant developments around shore power and new dredging frameworks. Adaptation to climate change is likely to grow in policy importance as will wider resilience. Freeports and ‘levelling up’ will also remain a focus of both government and the ports industry and the BPA is well placed for continued engagement on this as well as supporting a wider recovery from covid in certain sectors.
The British Ports Association (BPA) is the national trade body for ports, harbours and marine terminals, representing 86% of UK port freight activities around the UK.
Commenting on the year ahead, the BPA’s Chief Executive, Richard Ballantyne, said:
“The UK’s departure from the European Union and the pressures of the global pandemic on port staff, operations and customer activities has dominated much of the agenda in recent years but now the BPA is seeing the focus shift to sustainability and new business. Net Zero targets are now impacting our sector and a number of ports are now making their own commitments. Indeed we want to lead the decarbonisation drive in a way that works for ports but we do need some support from government.
Policy makers are promoting the levelling up agenda and it is now time to further explore the opportunities to help ports be the hubs of local, regional and even national economic development and job creation. Freeports is a good first step but we need to be more inclusive around all areas of the country.
The BPA is also expecting a return of maritime passenger and tourism as well as further increases in marine recreational activities, as ferry, cruise and UK tourism are looking for a bumper summer season as we come out of the pandemic.”
The BPA is also seeking some further policy and regulatory wins to accompany its recent lobbying victories. These include funding and support around the sustainability agenda, such as energy infrastructure for shore power, planning and consenting improvements, resources for transport connectivity and coastal shipping, and a viable dredging framework.
There is now a much better appreciation from government of the port zoning benefits of Freeports. These could help drive economic development and job creation, various Brexit policy decisions including increased government resources for borders infrastructure and also decarbonisation funding.
There remains much the UK ports sector would like to see the various parts of government do to help the regulatory and operating environment in which ports work in.
Selected 2021 policy wins for the BPA
Borders and trade
- Brexit port infrastructure funding as called for by the BPA for several years
- Customs and borders rule easements during the UK’s transitional journey leaving the EU
- Extra funding for Border Force staff and the Approvals Unit
Environment, sustainability and energy
- Sustained BPA calls for a green maritime fund were met with the biggest ever UK Government maritime decarbonisation competition. BPA support for the scheme and further funding will see the scheme extended.
- Changes to Permitted Development Rights rules in England
- Gradual UK Content rule changes for offshore wind development
- Additional infrastructure funding from BEIS for hubs to support the growth of offshore wind
- Explicit agreement from UK government that new Highly Protected Marine Areas are not compatible with harbour activities and will not overlap with harbour areas
- A new power demand forecasting tool from National Grid to help ports understand future power needs arising from shore power and the potential generation of alternative fuels
Transport and connectivity
- Freeports policy and designations: the BPA has been a driving force behind freeports policy, having published papers on what they could look like in 2018 that are largely reflected in this year’s designations
- Roads funding across the UK and the potential development of the Major Road Network and last mile connections to ports
- Union Connectivity Review recommendations around a fixed link between NI-GB and specific road links in Scotland. The BPA has long argued that the significant funding required for a fixed link could be better spent on wider infrastructure priorities.
- BPA lobbying on red diesel saw working vessels retain their right to a rebate beyond April 2022, in line with other transport modes as we had argued for
- Two thirds of the £100m UK Seafood Fund devoted to infrastructure. The BPA has been calling for an additional transformational £100m fishing fund, since 2017 to support wider economic sustainability.
- England and Scotland both now aim to increase the volume of seafood landings into UK ports using the conditions of commercial fisheries licenses, as BPA has been calling for since 2017
- Support for exporters and additional resources for checks in ports
- Reverting to previous rules on fisheries funding in England so that all ports can access funding following the temporary exclusion of municipal ports. All ports can now access fisheries funding
Safety and navigation
- Increased levels of enforcement from the MCA targeting defective pilot ladders and dangerous heaving lines
- More transparency with the Port Marine Safety Code compliance exercise and the publication of a list of compliant ports, which has driven behaviour change
- Draft proposals to rectify the definition of a ship anomaly