These issues will be grouped around four key drivers of change:

  • Technology & Automation;
  • Climate Change and the Environment;
  • Politics, Regulation and the Law; and
  • Social and Economic change

Under each theme, individual projects around key emerging challenges for ports will be launched, drawing in experts from industry and academia. The outcome will be a rolling programme of recommendations for the UK government, feeding into initiatives such as Maritime 2050 and the Industrial Strategy.

“This exciting programme will focus minds across industry and government on key long-term challenges, such as what port infrastructure will be needed to accommodate the vessels of the future. Will the current trend towards ever-larger ships continue? Or will autonomous vessels herald more but more numerous traffic into our ports?,” said Mark Simmonds, Policy Manager at the British Ports Association.

Ports carry 95% of the UK’s trade and as key parts of the logistics chains and important economic hubs in their own right, this programme will inform the government’s own futures project, Maritime 2050, launched in September.

Speaking this week, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Maritime 2050 is going to be a blueprint that will harness our strengths as a nation, that will help us understand how we reach our full potential, and how we demonstrate our ambition to be a world maritime leader.”