Commenting on the Government’s new Transport Investment Plan, the British Ports Association’s Chief Executive, Richard Ballantyne today welcomed the aspiration to create a new major road network but called for ports to be prioritised in regional and national projects.
Under the proposals the Government has said that it would ring-fence £1bn of funding from Vehicle Excise Duty for councils to use for local roads and transport spending. The focus on easing congestion is very welcome but this must ensure freight is able to compete and flourish across the UK. The Strategy mentions the UK’s key national corridors and investments must be inclusive of freight concerns. Focus needs to be on delivery.
Mr Ballantyne said:-
“The Strategy rightly recognises the importance of our ports to the UK’s global competitiveness and future prosperity for national and regional economies. The report also highlights the significant levels of investment that ports have made in their own facilities independently of Government. The challenge now is for the funding to be allocated towards linking ports with the national road and rail networks and also to ensure the entire transport network has the capacity to safeguard UK competitiveness. As local authorities are to given this additional funding, we will be pressing for appropriate consideration of port connectivity and freight priorities to feature in their regional strategies.”
The Government’s current Port Connectivity Study in England being led by the independent chair Sir John Randall is a welcome initiative which we hope will help to ensure ports are on the map and a feature in future national transport strategies. Moving forward we would like to see local authorities formally recognising this and other freight priorities in their own strategies.
“Alongside this Strategy it is important that the Government’s Industrial Strategy incorporates ports into future national and regional planning and highlights them as vital gateways and clusters of economic activity. Freight spending is often overlooked for big ticket passenger schemes. We are calling for a new freight advisory group of stakeholders to feed into and inform Government transport and investment strategies and also the work of the National Infrastructure Commission.”