The British Ports Association (BPA) has launched a new agenda for ports, setting out its vision of an expanded freeports policy.
The new agenda includes business rates relief and enhanced capital allowances to all ports around the UK, as well as prioritised funding for port connectivity.
“Parts of the sector have seen an increased engagement with government whether it be through the freeports programme or direct investment to support offshore and renewable energy,” said BPA Chairman and Chief Executive of Harwich Haven Authority, Neil Glendinning OBE during the association’s annual lunch in London.
“We shouldn’t forget of course that it isn’t only Freeports that are delivering Government priorities in terms of supporting industries from tourism to energy.
“It’s happening everywhere in our industry and should be supported everywhere. This doesn’t mean that we should establish hundreds of freeports, but we need government to support the sector in other ways, such as delivering greater connectivity, innovation and a more flexible and supportive regulatory framework.”
Glendinning also warned about ongoing challenges – from climate change to global conflicts – and accompanying volatility that ports must adapt to permanently.
BPA Chairman went on to criticise the Government’s exploitation of ports as an instrument of government, calling on Ministers to work more closely with the industry.
UK port operators – including BPA – expressed concern over a government delay on Brexit border checks, arguing millions of pounds invested in infrastructure will be wasted if the postponement goes ahead.