13 October 2017
Responding to the National Infrastructure Commission’s interim National Infrastructure Assessment, the British Ports Association Chief Executive, Richard Ballantyne, welcomed the attention on the UK’s long-term transport challenges but called for greater public investment in freight and network connectivity. Commenting, he suggested:
“The NIC’s Assessment provides an important wake-up call for the Government, highlighting some of the challenges the nation faces in terms of our transport infrastructure. The UK’s transport network is vital for ports and all in the freight and logistics sector.
UK ports have invested in their own infrastructure but they are reliant on good rail and particularly road connections. We welcome the long-term approach but feel that the Assessment’s vision of a well-maintained transport network should include a greater focus on port and freight issues. In recent years Government has directed much of its transport investment in big ticket passenger schemes and it is important that freight is not neglected to help the UK remain competitive.
95% of UK trade passes through British ports and it is vital for the prosperity of this country that goods continue to flow seamlessly across our transport network. That means investment in transport infrastructure and port connectivity schemes.”
The Assessment also gives much attention to green challenges and speaking on emissions and coastal shipping Mr Ballantyne added:
“In terms of the UK’s green transport strategies it is also disappointing that more attention is not given to the opporunities for incresaed coastal shipping. The UK Government has effectively given up on the concept of increasing the use of water for freight transport and we would like to see a renewed focus and a new coastal shipping policy.”
Once every Parliamentary session the NIC will publishes a National Infrastructure Assessment. This analyses the UK’s long-term economic infrastructure needs and includes a strategic vision for the next 30 years, setting out recommendations for how identified needs should be met.
The interim NIC Assessment suggests that poor connectivity and congestion has had a negative impact on UK logistics costs, which are ultimately passed on to consumers and impacts our national competitiveness. The document also finds that the majority of freight is transported by road, highlighting that and in the last 50 years total volumes of rail freight have remained broadly constant, while volumes on the road have doubled, vastly outpacing public road investment.