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New BPA Chair: Continued Success of UK Ports Depends on Government Policy

The continued success of UK ports cannot be taken for granted and relies on the right policy and regulatory framework. This was the message from newly elected BPA Chair Mike Sellers at the 30th annual lunch of the British Ports Association this week, where over 300 guests from across the sector had gathered.

Mr Sellers, who is the Port Director at Portsmouth International Port, said that the UK ports industry is buoyant and confident of future growth across a number of sectors, but this success is no accident and depends on a stable and market-orientated ports policy.

Maritime Minister Baroness Vere also spoke at the lunch, highlighting her ambition to support the industry’s competitiveness. Baroness Vere said praised the industry’s work and resilience and encouraged ports ports to raise specific issues and solutions with her and officials. Penny Mordaunt MP, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons was also present, as were MPs invited as guests of BPA member ports.

In his speech to members and guests, Mr Sellers said that it is often industry that delivers on Government priorities and ambitions, from the energy transition and net zero to bringing prosperity to coastal communities. He said that the need for greater collaboration is well recognised and the BPA is the industry’s primary forum for delivering that, highlighting new initiatives around decarbonisation and port security.

Mr Sellers highlighted post-Brexit border arrangements as one area where policy certainty is needed as well as less headline-grabbing issues such as abandoned vessels and the regulation of personal watercraft in harbours. The BPA’s recently published regulatory map highlighted more than one in ten port regulations were in need of urgent reform.

The BPA’s recent regulatory map and directory highlighted that more than one in ten port regulations are in need or urgent reform. www.britishports.org.uk/regulation

I am delighted the Maritime Minister could join industry colleagues in London this week.

The UK ports industry is buoyant and looking forward to a bright future with strong growth in new and emerging sectors.

We’re well placed to take advantage of these opportunities and resilient in the face of challenges.

That success is not an accident. It is a result of decades of a market-orientated ports policy that has allowed industry to flourish into the thriving and competitive sector that we have today.

Government must be mindful that the competitiveness of the sector, it’s wider success and ability to continue to create more prosperous coastal communities depends on a solid foundation of government policy and continued close working and collaboration.

Mike Sellers, Chair of the British Ports Association

Immediately prior to the lunch, Doug Bannister, Chief Executive at the Port of Dover, was elected Deputy Chairman, and Maurice Bullick from Belfast Harbour was re-elected as Treasurer.