26 July 2019
The British Ports Association has welcomed the new Transport Secretary to his role and highlighted the huge opportunities that ports offer in supporting the Government’s agenda around trade and prosperity.
Grant Shapps MP has taken over as Secretary of State for Transport from Chris Grayling MP. Maritime Minister, Nusrat Ghani MP, remains in post.
Commenting on the appointments and reappointments, Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive of the British Ports Association said:
“We welcome Grant Shapps to his new role and look forward to continuing a close and constructive relationship between Government and industry. We hope the spirit of collaboration contained within the Department’s Maritime 2050 continues under this new leadership.
We note Mr Shapps’ interest and enthusiasm for infrastructure and he will be pleased to hear that the ports industry delivers huge sums of private capital investment in world-class port infrastructure at no cost to the Exchequer.
Nus Ghani has been a tireless champion of the maritime sector in her role as Maritime Minister and we are pleased that the sector can continue to call on her support. The reappointment means that at an important time for the sector there is some continuity in both planning for Brexit and exciting policy developments around the Government’s Maritime 2050 programme.”
On Brexit, he said:
“Brexit is clearly the number one priority for this Government and we would reiterate our position that a no-deal Brexit would cause needless disruption at some of our key trading gateways. We urge Mr Shapps and the new Prime Minister to continue to prioritise frictionless trade in their negotiations.”
On the Prime Minister’s support for free ports, he said:
“We are delighted to see that the Prime Minister recognises that ports are important regional and national economic hubs. The ports industry is keen to work with the Government to explore how we can harness and grow this activity further. Many of the benefits of classic ‘free ports’ can be achieved through existing processes and they will not benefit every port, but still have some merit, particularly in certain Brexit scenarios. We have developed a much wider and more ambitious set of industry-led proposals that will support sustainable economic development in and around ‘port zones’ and we are looking forward to discussing these with Ministers at the earliest opportunity.”
Free ports are trading areas with a special status which exempts goods from customs arrangements and duties but many of the advantages can already be achieved with routine permissions from the UK Government.
Free Ports are a potentially transformational opportunity for locations with the right conditions and strong local support. They have proved to be successful in stimulating investment and jobs in a range of locations around the world. However, they are not a silver bullet for all locations nor the only way of boosting the UK’s main global gateways as Britain prepares for Brexit. They are one of a range of measures which would improve productivity and trade in and around the UK’s ports, adding more value to the UK and local economies. Free ports are one part of a broader package of reforms to development rules that industry has put forward to boost investment in coastal communities. Critical to realising the benefits from this investment for the rest of the UK is improved connectivity for ports with inland economic and population centres.
The BPA will continue to work with Departments across Whitehall, as the marine environment and industrial strategy have an increasing impact on the ports industry. Mr Ballantyne said:
“The ports industry is the foundation of the entire marine economy, including offshore wind. The Government recently published a sector deal for offshore wind with a target for a third of the UK’s energy supply come from wind by 2030 and we are pleased that the Government’s ambition in this area matches industry. We hope that the new Ministerial team, when it is finalised, continues with this bold programme.”
On reappointments at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, he said:
“We note the reappointment of Therese Coffey at Defra and the return of George Eustice to the Fisheries brief. The BPA is committed to supporting policies that support a sustainable development framework in the UK that preserves our incredible natural environment and habitats whilst giving ports greater certainty and the ability to grow. We look forward to continuing to explore how we can improve the marine consenting and licensing regimes and how we can support UK fishing ports through increased landings.”
Mr Ballantyne also thanked the outgoing Transport Secretary, who stepped down:
“We are grateful to Chris Grayling for his work as Transport Secretary. Under his leadership the Department has set out a vision for the future of the industry and we are now setting out along the path of realising that vision.”