20 December 2016
BPA chairman calls for “port zoning” strategy, Port Service Regulation, Brexit and CPS free port proposal.
This month the BPA called on Ministers to introduce ‘port zoning’ in and around UK harbour areas to support jobs and trade post-Brexit.
BPA Chairman Rodney Lunn has written to the Ministers around the UK outlining the new concept that would see both marine and land areas within ports being classified as special areas for growth.
These zones would be safeguarded against the impact of marine designations and planning system challenges, allowing ports to fast-track developments and have certainty about their future activities.
Ports throughout the UK now face increasing restrictions stemming from marine and planning designations, often representing a challenge to their statutory duties and future plans.
Port Services Regulation
This month the EU Port Services Regulation passed a crucial hurdle and was voted through following a plenary in the European Parliament.
The Regulation sets out a framework for port services covering mooring, towage, bunkering and waste as well as financial transparency arrangements for ports on the EU TEN-T Core and Comprehensive networks.
We expect that the PSR will receive its final approval at the next European Council meeting in January, after which the Regulation will be listed in the EU Official Journal by early-February. EU member states will be required to implement the legislation within two years of this date (by February 2019).
As this is likely to be before the UK Government triggers Article 50 and the possible two-year EU departure countdown, the Regulation will be implemented into UK law before Brexit.
Also should the UK negotiate to remain a member of the Single Market, the UK would be obliged to keep the legislation and follow the PSR.
The proposals have been watered down somewhat but the UK ports sector remains concerned the requirements could become burdensome.
Brexit and CPS free port proposal
We continue to discuss the implications of Brexit on port activities with Ministers and officials from various parts of UK Government.
The issues for us surround increased Government border activities at ports which could lead to disruption on port and logistics flows.
The re-introduction of customs and VAT declaration requirements on intra EU routes could lead to delays at ports and create inefficiencies in the freight sector. A report has been published by the economic think tank The Centre for Policy Studies authored by Rishi Sunak MP.
The report proposes a system where certain UK ports, post Brexit, could have a free trade status outside customs arrangements. This would support not only transhipment of cargo, but also allow zones of manufacturing and enterprise.
This is an interesting concept which we are exploring with our members. The Brexit vote has prompted a number of discussions to do with trade and customs policy and any options which improve the potential flow of goods and passengers at our ports are worth exploring.
A ”Free port“ system could be more beneficial for some ports and it is important to ensure any proposals properly reflect the diversity of the UK ports industry and do not distort competition.