The British Ports Association is in favour of focusing on freight transport, a recommendation by the National Infrastructure Commission. Yet, it proposes that more investments in network capabilities and port connectivity is key to establishing better efficiencies. The quality of the transport network is critical for efficient freight movement and business growth.
Specifically, in light of the National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) freight report ‘Better delivery: The challenge for freight‘, the BPA asks for a new government freight strategy and support for local authority roads budgets.
The BPA’s Chief Executive, Richard Ballantyne, commented on the study that
We welcome the National Infrastructure Commission’s Freight Study. Freight is a vital part of the economy but is often overlooked in terms of transport investment, where traditionally passenger schemes have received most attention.
He continued that the study focuses on the barriers the freight sector faces concerning environmental requirements. Yet, BPA stated that they would like to see a review of transport funding and more support for local authorities to recognise port development and back up local freight transport challenges.
The NIC has also proposed greater recognition for freight at all levels of the planning system, which we are very pleased to see.
… Ballantyne noted.
Moreover, the ports need a good hinterland transport based on road and rail networks to be able to handle the products they transfer. Thus, road transport if of a big importance to the UK, as more than 80% of their products are transmitted by HGVs.
As a result, Mr Ballantyne addressed that the support of the transport network should be based on clearer public funding commitments. For the last two years, UK road funding has been neglected at some points.
In the meantime, the BPA being represented on the NIC’s Freight Study Advisory Panel, pressured for a better recognition of freight and ports in Government policy and also called for a new freight strategy.
The highlight of the strategy is information from the sector to feed into government spending and policy initiatives. The NIC’s Study has recommended the formation of a cross Government freight council to consider industry challenges.
Following, as Mr Ballantyne stated
The Department for Transport’s 2018 Port Connectivity Study for England highlighted a number of issues which are clear priorities for other parts of Government to consider. However on an on-going basis new arrangements are needed whereby information about port connectivity needs can be regularly fed into the planning process. We are keen that the NIC’s proposed national freight council plays a role in this process, at least at a very high level.
The NIC’s report also proposes that Ministers should prohibit the sale of new diesel HGVlorries by no later than 2040.
The development of hydrogen and battery HGVs is already well advanced and vehicles are expected to be commercially available in the early 2020s. It also said that the ban on new sales of diesel HGVs should also be part of wider efforts to support the entire road and rail freight industry to become carbon-free by 2050, and also to help ease worsening congestion.
Concluding, the NIC focused on the fact that the UK freight industry is one of the most fruitful and competitive on a global scale, as it uses air, sea, road and rail to maximize its effectiveness in capacity and technical constraints.