The growth of UK ports are often held back by a planning system that moves too slowly for the fast-changing needs of the sector, our Ports Development Conference has heard.
Speaking at the event DP World’s Estate Manager Nick Orbell said: “Ports don’t like lag time. If a response is needed, it needs to be quick.”
Steven Clapperton, Marine Harbour Master at the Port of Tyne, agreed: “By the time a customer comes to the realisation that they have a requirement, if your land is ready for use within two of three years you are going to be up against it.”
Matt Hunt, Port Director at the Port of Sunderland, said that masterplans can fetter the development of ports by making it harder to capitalise on opportunities. He said: “The difficulty with masterplans is that our role changes quite significantly and quite regularly. Commercial opportunities are here today and gone tomorrow, the factors driving investment decisions are out with our control.”
Andrew Clarke, Head of Masterplanning at Associated British Ports (ABP), said that when bringing forward facilities it is a good idea to provide extra space in order to be able to respond to future demands.
He said: “If you build a couple of metres higher, you get a lot more choice about what you do. It costs you more and it’s more than you require to service the trade you are currently looking to service but that extra increment of expense brings you a different range of options. It is buying choice for the future which will be valuable. When making choices between different investments you are trying not what is most efficient in current circumstances but for future options.”
Report from the Ports Development Conference by Built Environment Networking website