The British Ports Association has issued its annual New Year’s message picking out some expected highlights for UK port authorities and operators in 2020. Whilst the terms of the Brexit deal will no doubt continue to dominate, the BPA outlines the key priorities for 2020 to be: Sustainability, energy transition, regional growth, connectivity, innovation, safety, people & skills, regulatory review and port ‘impact’ to be major themes.
Brexit, Free Ports & Maritime 2050
According to BPA’s Chief Executive, Richard Ballantyne, 2020 could be a pivotal year for ports. More specifically, the EU Withdrawal Agreement will see the UK leaving European customs rules, which in turn means new border controls for freight operators.
This will be a major challenge for parts of the UK logistics sector including those on the Irish Sea, so working with the Government to ensure additional costs and delays are kept to a minimum will be central to our discussions with officials. There will of course be potential opportunities to influence the expected deregulation drive which may include shaping any new infrastructure and fisheries funding, as well as State Aid rules and port service regulations
Sustainability, Planning, and the Energy Transition
In this matter, the BPA’s team outlined some specific points, with BPA’s Head of Policy and External Affairs, Mark Simmonds, who leads on the Association’s sustainability agenda, explaining that the focus on air emissions from ports and shipping more widely will continue to grow.
Of course, this presents huge challenges for ports and sustainability, and the environment will be a particular focus for the BPA. More generally, the energy transition will continue to change the way ports operate as some cargoes decline or fall away completely whilst new ones appear and offshore renewables becomes ever more important to the sector.
A ‘new’ UK Government, Brexit and any potential economic fallout may mean that the industry’s ideas for improving the planning and consenting regimes for ports start to be heard with more interest in Westminster, Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont
Infrastructure and Connectivity
As far as wider transport and economic policies are concerned, Phoebe Warneford-Thomson, Policy and Economic Analyst, at the BPA highlighted the importance of ports in providing jobs and industry in often deprived UK regions. She highlighted that national, regional and local planners will need to prioritise port transport and infrastructure needs in order for the sector to realise new projects and developments.
In fact, while UK cargo figures slowed down somewhat last year, other types of port business are thriving. Namely, ports remain a crucial component of UK tourism as the popularity of marine leisure continues to grow. Specifically, UK cruise passenger numbers increased by 15% to 2.2 million last year, continuing the upward trend in recent years.
What is more, the BPA informed that it has also been working alongside various members and associate members by creating short reports on innovation and trends as part of its ‘Port Futures’ programme. Recent examples have analyzed digitalization, autonomous shipping and master planning, while more projects will be launched during 2020.
There continues to be a lack of awareness about port and maritime career opportunities. In 2020 we will be promoting more events and highlighting the importance of reaching out to primary and secondary school children as well as university students. We will also be launching our ‘People in Ports’ initiative which shall give insight into the wide range of careers opportunities available at UK ports
said BPA’s Office Manager, Shenaz Bussawon.