The UK’s ports are key to rebuilding the economy

The global coronavirus pandemic has brought into sharp focus the importance of our ports and the maritime sector.

Throughout the period of disruption caused by the pandemic, key workers in ports across the country have been working tirelessly to safeguard essential supply chains for food, medical supplies and critical fuels.

As an island nation, the UK’s economic recovery relies on reviving and revitalising international trade.

ABP’s 21 ports around Britain handle around a quarter of the UK’s seaborne trade and connect businesses to global markets.

The Port of Southampton alone handles £40 billion of UK exports, making it the UK’s number one export and a vital asset to the future success of British manufacturers.

Southampton is also Europe’s leading cruise turnaround port, with each cruise call worth £2 million to the local economy. ABP is committed to investing in infrastructure and facilities across our ports to support the recovery and growth of these businesses.

By facilitating trade growth our ports can also make a significant contribution towards levelling up the economy.

ABP’s Humber ports serve the UK’s busiest trading estuary and together handle £75 billion of trade for businesses and industry across the North and the Midlands.

Recent investment to expand the container terminals in Hull and Immingham mean the Humber ports are ideally placed to support growing trade with Europe and provide necessary supply chain resilience for traders in the event of disruption on the Dover-Calais route.

Government investment in road and rail links to ports, and particularly improved access for rail freight across the North, will bring further benefits to businesses while helping to reduce emissions.

Close collaboration between government and industry is also essential in delivering the border infrastructure required to limit supply chain disruption and maintain trade resilience after the end of the transition period.

Ports around the country offer great potential as sites for port-centric manufacturing, helping to deliver high-skilled jobs and drive economic activity in coastal communities.

In addition to facilitating the growth in trade, ports can also support the recovery by serving as locations for new economic activity.

Ports around the country offer great potential as sites for port-centric manufacturing, helping to deliver high-skilled jobs and drive economic activity in coastal communities.

An ambitious freeports policy can further enhance the ability of ports to attract new investment by offering additional incentives for manufacturers.

While supporting the sustainable growth of trade and economic rebalancing, ports can also play a central role in delivering shared objectives on decarbonisation.

Ports are already at the forefront of the offshore wind sector, from manufacturing and assembly to installation and O&M, helping the UK to deliver 40GW of offshore wind by 2030. Ports are also working to support the decarbonisation of freight transport across the supply chain through alternative fuels, clean energy generation and storage.

Since 2011, ABP has invested £50 million in green technologies, including renewable energy projects, electric vehicles, electric port equipment and fuel-efficient pilot vessels.

Today 17 out of ABP’s 21 ports have renewable energy generation projects providing clean power for the business, port users and the National Grid.

ABP is committed to working with partners in industry and government to further transform ports and terminals into low carbon hubs which can help build the sustainable supply chains of the future.

The nation’s ports have fulfilled an essential role in keeping Britain trading through this unprecedented period.

Ports can now provide the foundations for rebuilding the economy in the months ahead.

First published in The House