BPA responds to summer statement: moving in the right direction

The British Ports Association (BPA) has tentatively welcomed measures announced in the UK Chancellor’s Summer Statement today, noting the assurances that these are the latest in a series, with more to come.

The bringing forward of infrastructure projects, first announced by the Government on 30 June, is good news for construction and good news for ports. This was highlighted as important in the BPA’s recently published UK port sector recovery plan and infrastructure investment drives many economic and port activities.

Other measures to ‘kick start’ the economy are also good news, particularly those supporting people into work and retaining jobs. This will benefit industry both directly and indirectly. Coastal communities are often in deprived areas and port clusters can be important hubs for jobs and regional investment.

We are pleased that the Government has recognised that we must ‘build back better’ with investment in the green economy. The maritime sector has particular challenges but significant ambitions in this area and we are keen to support both decarbonisation and innovation - key policy goals for Government. We need to see a green maritime fund supporting innovative schemes in UK ports in future announcements such as the autumn budget and national infrastructure strategy.

Plans to support hospitality and tourism will also be welcomed by ports focussing on recreation and leisure which are amongst the hardest hit in the industry. Passenger travel including the ferry, cruise and marine recreation sectors have all be hit hard by the lockdown.

Commenting, Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive, at the British Ports Association said:

“Today’s statement is welcome news and we support the focus on jobs as a priority for Government. The Chancellor must now turn his attention to scaling up ambition in green investment and further infrastructure capacity.

Ports have shown incredible resilience during the pandemic, part of an impressive supply chain that has ensured critical food, medicine and other goods have continued to flow into the country despite significant challenges. Despite this, planned investment has been hit and some parts of the sector are still suffering. Our sector recovery plan highlights the need to build back better with a green maritime fund, targeted support, and infrastructure upgrades that will support both physical, digital and energy connectivity.

In addition to extending some business support measures, employment initiatives and the £5bn of infrastructure spending that were announced today, it is important that the Government now seriously look at the remaining priorities we have set out when planning the next stage of intervention.

There needs to be more focus on coastal regions of which ports are a key component. We would like to have a government minister in all parts of the UK, specifically given responsibility for coastal development as well as the establishment of a coastal communities taskforce to examine regional growth opportunities. Ports are important economic clusters and with strategic support, they can stimulate investment and jobs to benefit their regions and the country.”

Mr Ballantyne was today giving evidence at the UK Parliament’s Transport Select Committee on the impact of the pandemic on the maritime sector. This session can be viewed here (from 10:40).

The BPA is an active member of the umbrella group Maritime UK and is driving wider industry calls for better representation of coastal communities across Britain.