The UK Major Ports Group is the trade association representing most of the larger commercial ports in the United Kingdom. It has nine members, who own and operate over 40 ports, accounting for more than 75% of the total tonnage handled in UK ports.
Tim Morris, CEO of the UK Major Ports Group, said: “In the post-Brexit world, trade needs to be hard-wired into all our policy-making. Our ports are the gateway to UK trade and it is imperative that we have the right framework in place to allow them to invest in the future and make the UK as attractive for international trade as possible. UKMPG members already invest more than half a billion pounds in the UK each year. They are ambitious to do more, boosting the UK’s capability to trade and also, crucially, jobs and prosperity in the UK’s coastal communities.
“Our plan focusses on ten common-sense, pragmatic and practical ways the Government could create a better environment for ports, for trade and for investment, helping not just the ports themselves but coastal communities all over Britain. With the challenges and opportunities the post-Brexit world presents, we urge Ministers to look carefully at these proposals.”
The Full 10 Point Plan is Below
- We should broaden the scope of Permitted Development rights for UK ports to make investment faster and easier and increase the potential for growing good, value added jobs. This requires speed in decision making and enabling ports to be agile in responding to investment opportunities, including where UK ports are in competition with EU alternatives, and expanding activities into new and higher value areas.
- We need a revised definition of ‘operational land’ so it better reflects the modern major ports business, and covers the full area used by multimodal ports – so that regulation recognises that the activities of modern ports are not to the ship to shore transfer, but that they are important centres for distribution chains, manufacturing activities and provide a wide array of services.
- If a development is going to have a significant positive impact on trade and investment, this should be recognised as a material consideration in the planning process. This is already set out in the National Policy Planning Framework, and it is important that this principle is consistently applied.
- We need to streamline decision making at ports, and a review of the Coastal Concordat is needed to clarify responsibilities between marine authorities and local councils. Ideally, we need to establish one single lead authority on these matters, to make a clearer and more accountable process for planning.
- The defined stage gates feature of the planning process used for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) should be more widely applied, in order to ensure greater certainty in the planning process.
- The needs and opportunities for ports should be included in local strategic spatial plans, in the same way residential, commercial and industrial developments are currently considered.
- Similarly, masterplans for ports should be given formal status in the planning process, in exactly the same was residential masterplans are already considered.
- Coastal communities are unique in what they can deliver for the economy and it is important that we encourage investment, jobs and trade in these areas as much as possible to harness this. Special consideration should be applied to coastal communities in the NPPF, much in the same way it already considers rural communities.
- We should explore pro-trade, pro-investment ‘port zones’ around specific port areas and their hinterlands. With a strong business case and local support, this policy has the potential to greatly enhance regional economies as well as boosting the UK’s capability to trade with the world. The concept could be extended further to ‘free trade zones’, a tried and tested method which has been successful elsewhere in the world, including in the USA, Europe and Asia.
- We should review environmental regulations with the aim of creating a system which is both good for trade, and ensures high standards of environmental protection. For example, we should seek to favour innovative enhancements rather than inflexible ‘like for like’ approaches to environmental re-provisions.
The article is continued on the UKMPG website here