British Ports Association Publishes General Election 2019 Priorities

The British Ports Association has today published it’s six key policy priorities for the 2019 UK General Election, focussing on a swift and satisfactory resolution to Brexit, safety, planning, connectivity, making the most of UK maritime, and fisheries.

The new document includes a number of key requests of government, including implementation of the industry’s planning proposals, a new Maritime Bill, a freight strategy, and coastal shipping.

Mark Simmonds, Head of Policy & External Affairs at the BPA, said:

”This is a forward-looking, positive programme of realistic proposals that we hope all of those standing for election will be able to sign up to.
We have been pushing many of these themes for a long time but the silver lining of the last few years of uncertainty is a renewed focus on the tremendous value around our ports and maritime industries. Ports are the foundation of the entire £46.1bn maritime economy, supporting industries such as leisure and tourism, commercial fishing, offshore energy aggregates and more.

We look forward to discussing the ideas in this report, and more, with whoever forms the next Government.”

1. A Brexit Settlement that works for ports
UK ports have consistently backed Government policy of ensuring continued frictionless trade at our frontiers. That means no new checks at the border.
The British Ports Association has been working closely with Government and industry since the 2016 referendum to ensure that the free flow of trade at our frontiers is not impeded by Brexit.
UK ports want to see an end to Brexit uncertainty: it’s bad for investment and bad for the economy.

2. Safe and Secure Ports
The industry has a good record of safety, but we want it to be better. Safety is the top priority for every port authority and port operator in the UK. Ports play a key role in ensuring navigational safety within their waters by maintaining world-class infrastructure at no cost to the taxpayer.

Key asks

• More resources for the Maritime & Coastguard Agency to ensure it can continue to keep our seas and coastlines safe, including in and around port areas. The MCA should has what it needs to support the Port Marine Safety Code. Government should also reassess the resourcing of the UK’s emergency towage provision.
• Rollout a campaign on the dangers of alcohol and recreational boating to complement action to close legal loopholes in this area
• Greater recognition and inclusion of Port Skills & Safety in Government landside safety policy work
• Ensure Border Force has the resources they need to keep our borders secure without impacting legitimate trade and passenger flows

3. A Fresh Look at Port Zones and ‘Free Ports’

The British Ports Association and a coalition of UK airport and seaport operators have developed proposals for new Enterprise, Development and Free Trade Zones. These designations will support regional growth centred around key UK transport hubs.

Key asks

• Implement the recommendations in the Port Zones UK report ‘A Licence to Operate: Enterprise, Development and Free Trade Zones’
• Reconstitute the ‘Free Ports Advisory Panel’
• Formal recognition for Port Masterplans in the wider planning system and the implementation of the industry’s 10 point plan for the terrestrial planning regime
• Ensure that marine licensing and consenting bodies have the resources they need to assess applications in an efficient and consistent manner
• Work with industry on forthcoming proposals around marine planning

4. World-Class Connectivity for World-Class Infrastructure

UK ports invest over £600m a year in new infrastructure. Large scale port development is currently underway in Aberdeen, Dover and Tilbury. This investment supports 115,000 highly productive jobs plus hundreds of thousands more in the supply chain. World-class ports need world-class surface connectivity.

Key asks

• Revisit public infrastructure investment opportunities from the 2018 Port Connectivity Study in the next Budget
• Formal recognition for Port Masterplans in the wider planning system
• A review of funding for local authorities’ roads and local transport budgets

5. Making the Most of Our UK Maritime Opportunities

The UK boasts hundreds of ports along its coastline, rivers and estuaries. Ports are the foundation of the entire £46.1bn maritime economy, supporting industries including leisure and tourism, commercial fishing, offshore energy aggregates and more. The UK’s unique mixed model of port ownership has delivered a competitive, productive and investment-led successful industry providing over 115,000 jobs. That successful mixed model should continue.

Key asks

• A new Maritime Bill to ensure our legislative and regulatory regime is up to date and supports the maritime economy
• A new freight strategy that recognises the value of coastal shipping
• Meet the Clean Maritime Plan commitment to commission a study on the economic and environmental benefits of coastal shipping to the UK
• Stick to commitments to support decommissioning in the UK
• Take forward the offshore wind sector deal with guaranteed UK content
• More recognition for maritime and cruise opportunities in the Tourism sector deal and wider mainstreaming in Government tourism policy

6. A Fisheries Regime that Supports UK Communities

UK fisheries were a key issue in the 2016 referendum and the UK’s departure from the European Union is an opportunity to re-examine our fisheries policy.

Key asks

A new transformational fishing fund:

• A £100m+ a year domestic fisheries fund with clear, strategic aims that tie into wider policy to revive UK fishing
• A ringfenced infrastructure strand, recognising the foundational importance of ports to the wider industry
• Remove the £1m cap for infrastructure projects
• Back projects that support the diversification and wider competitiveness of ports and related businesses, where this will sustain local commercial fishing activity

Restoring the Economic Link

• Amend the economic link requirement in commercial fishing licenses to make it mandatory to land all UK quota in a UK port. A phased approach would be appropriate

The BPA will be launching a separate campaign specifically on fishing next week.

Read the full report here.