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Sustainability overtakes Brexit as primary focus for port industry

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Brexit will continue to dominate in 2020 but it is sustainability will rise to the top of the political agenda over the next decade and is an issue that affects all ports, according to the British Ports Association (BPA).

The BPA issued its annual New Year’s message on January 2nd highlighting its expectations for UK port authorities and operators in 2020.

Regarding sustainability, BPA’s head of policy and external affairs, Mark Simmonds, said, ““For many, 2020 is the year of the sulphur cap but the focus on air emissions from ports and shipping more widely will continue to grow.

“Whilst Brexit has dominated the headlines for years, sustainability has been the issue that affects all ports and it will be near the top of the political agenda for the next decade – whether it’s emissions, planning rules or marine litter.”

For the BPA sustainability and the environment will a focus in 2020, Simmonds said.

“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,” he added.

In addition, Simmonds notes, with Brexit on the horizon and any potential economic fallout from it may result in the industry’s ideas for improving the planning and consenting regions for ports may start to be heard with more interest by the British Government.

On Brexit, free ports and maritime 2050, Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive of the BPA, said, “2020 could be a pivotal year for ports. The passed EU Withdrawal Agreement will see the UK diverging from European customs rules meaning new border controls 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, the shape of any new infrastructure and fisheries funding and to examine how much changes in terms of State Aid rules and technical rules on port service provision.

Ballantyne added that the BPA expects the government to press ahead with a Free Ports policy so encouraging an inclusive port zoning strategy, looking at how ports of all type and location will features in national and regional growth strategies will be central.

The New Year’s message also highlighted wider transport and economic policies and the important role ports play in providing jobs and industry in “often deprived UK regions”.

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