16 November 2017
The British Ports Association’s Scottish Ports Group has called on policy makers to ensure that ports are at the forefront of key Scottish economic, transport and planning strategies as the UK moves towards Brexit.
Speaking at the Annual British Ports Association/UK Chamber of Shipping Scottish Parliamentary Maritime Reception in Edinburgh, the Scottish Ports Group’s Chair Lorna Spencer called for a greater focus on the vital role that ports play in future transport and environmental decisions, particularly in light of Brexit.
“We will be closely examining what the potential regulatory and environmental opportunities might mean for Scottish ports after Brexit. This could mean removing the recently passed EU Port Services Regulation and also what improvements to the port planning and consenting regimes might be possible.”
Additionally, Ms Spencer was keen to highlight the economic contribution ports make.
She suggested that Government investment in better rail and particularly road connections to ports could significantly encourage parts of the Scottish freight and tourism industries, to which ports are so important.
“Ports are significant bases for regional and national economic activity as well as important hubs for employment in Scotland. This means that it is vital that any future Government transport strategies and environmental proposals complement and do not inhibit our ports.
Generally speaking we are grateful that Transport Scotland has helped ensure that ports are on the radar in terms of Scottish Government transport and freight policies.
Where we have seen problems however is in terms of environmental protection initiatives. Often these well intended designations can create barriers to growth, requiring port projects to undertake costly and time-consuming applications and assessments.
Unfortunately, there is a prevailing feeling in the ports industry that there is now an imbalance with the wide variety of environmental conditions often taking precedence over development. This must stop, and we are calling on Ministers to give special recognition to the role that ports play by exempting them from certain environmental planning conditions. This will mean that ports can continue to function, develop and provide the jobs so vital to coastal communities and the Scottish economy.”