One of the key priorities of the British Ports Association (BPA) in 2018 will be influencing the Brexit discussions, the main objective being ensuring any slowdowns in trade are avoided.
2018 will be critical for UK ports as by the end of the year it will be known what Brexit will look like, BPA said.
Among the major worries of the association are potential new customs and environmental arrangements which might result in congestion or delays at UK ports or impact their environmental policies.
“A number of ports, particularly the UK’s network of Roll-on Roll-off ferry ports, are concerned that following the UK’s departure from the customs union and the single market, new bureaucratic border checks could slow down trade. As phase 2 of the Brexit negotiations begin, we will be pressing the UK Government to ensure that trade facilitation is given a much higher prominence in the discussions,” BPA’s Chief Executive Richard Ballantyne said.
Promotion of planning and freight policy reform, calls for increased transport connectivity investment and the rectification of the ‘definition of a ship’ legal anomaly will also be on top of the BPA’s agenda.
The BPA said it would continue to push for areas around ports to be classified with a special planning and consenting status to help stimulate port development and growth.
Ballantyne voiced his dissapointment to the government’s inaction on the industries’ suggested planning reforms to fast track planning and consenting in port areas.
“Indeed, we also now understand that a ‘free ports’ policy is, for the time being at least, ‘off the agenda’ and that the UK ports industry will have to prepare for the introduction of the bureaucratic EU Port Services Regulation before Brexit,” he added.
The BPA will also be promoting the case for increased road and rail infrastructure investment to better connect UK ports and keep the sector competitive.
Ballantyne added that BPA would also be pushing the government for a re-think on its non-existent coastal shipping policy.