The British Ports Association (BPA) has called for the UK’s upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review to consider greater investment in transport and infrastructure.
In a letter to Liz Truss MP, the UK Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the BPA recommended that the review take into account ways of reproducing EU-wide funding mechanisms currently in place for transport and infrastructure, in order to guarantee maintenance of UK port infrastructure after Brexit. It further urged the creation of new funding procedures to allow the UK’s transport and shipping sectors to benefit from investment by the European Investment Bank, both for infrastructure maintenance and research and innovation projects aimed at developing new sustainable marine equipment.
Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive of the British Ports Association, said: “We are keen that the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review provides for pro-investment transport strategies similar to the EU’s TEN-T [Trans-European Transport Networks] and Connecting Europe Facility programme; and that domestic schemes similar to the Motorways of the Sea programme and the European Maritime Fisheries Fund are created and properly resourced. The economy and our ports need to be able to compete and continue to facilitate trade and enable valuable coastal activities. It is vital that a legacy of Brexit is not that the UK gives up on infrastructure investment. We need to ensure ports and regional economies are connected with a world class transport network. This would help drive efficiencies in the transport of goods and passengers and would also support coastal communities, businesses and tourism strategies.”
The UK Department for Transport’s Port Connectivity Study, published in 2018, noted that UK port infrastructure is commonly exempt from government strategies and policy decisions on transport, which focus more on land-based transport infrastructure such as road and rail. The BPA argued that this should change, particularly in light of the fact that once the UK has left the EU, its ports will be crucial to forming beneficial trade partnerships with third countries.
Ballantyne added: “The UK ports industry is a competitive sector. What our ports look for is an efficient planning system and a good national transport network. Previously the BPA has warned that in the coming years the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility is expected to be used to target the hinterland network connectivity challenges faced by many European ports. It will be important that the UK is not left behind. There has rightly been much attention on the potential impacts of new border controls on some UK-EU routes but other factors such as long-term post-Brexit transport plans and infrastructure investment should not be ignored.”