Categories: British Ports Association, EuropePublished On: 13.09.2019453 words2.3 min read

• Port Zones UK– a new coalition of British airport and seaport operators – calls for planning reforms as part of an economic package to stimulate investment
• ‘Zonal’ enhancements to the terrestrial and marine planning systems should be combined with business focused policies of enterprise and free trade zones to create modern free ports


A new trade campaign coalition has published a report calling on the Government to grant special economic status to airports and seaports in order to stimulate international investment, reshore manufacturing and ultimately lower prices for consumers in a post-Brexit Britain.

Port Zones UKis a new coalition of British airport and seaport operators, whose aim is to promote regional growth centred on key UKtransport hubs, through the designation of enhanced ‘Enterprise, Development and Free Trade Zones’. Founding members of the new organisation include the British Ports Association (BPA), Regional and City Airports (RCA), the Port of Milford Haven, the Port of Tyne and the Institute for Exports.

The UKGovernment recently announced it was planning to create up to 10 free ports across the UKafter Brexit allowing firms to import goods and then re-export them outside normal tax and customs rules. However, Port Zones UK, which was officially launched today, has published a new report – ‘A Licence to Operate: ‘Enterprise, Development and Free Trade Zones’ – which looks in more detail at the potential policy measures needed to make a success of any contemporary free ports programme.

In its report, Port Zones UKstates that the UK’s imminent departure from the European Union (EU) has created a fresh impetus for a new and innovative growth-generating policy in regional and coastal communities. However, business conditions need to be created which increase the flow of foreign direct investment, which is central to the future of Great Britain.

Specifically, the report states that ‘zonal’ enhancements to the terrestrial and marine planning systems, as well as modifications to business focused policies of enterprise zones, need to be overlaid with any free port designation.

The report reveals three key areas of detailed policy which the Government needs to focus on. These include:
• Speeding up the process and granting of planning permissions for development.
• Ensuring that the marine and terrestrial planning systems relating to ports are closely co-ordinated to expedite marine licences.
• Reducing delays arising from environmental legislation such as the Habitats Directive and environmental impact assessments.

Richard Ballantyne, from Port Zones UK, and Chief Executive at the British Ports Association said:

“As the UK recasts its global economic relationships, trade has never been so important to the fortune of the nation. Business, consumer and investor confidence are – and will be – inextricably linked to the future success of the British economy.