Monday, January 27, 2020

Minister Visits Two Ports in Succession to Hear the Benefits of Short Sea Containerisation

Facilities at Each End of the Country Vote on a Switch from RoRo Post Brexit
Shipping News Feature

UK – Nusrat Ghani MP is certainly getting about in her role as Shipping Minister with two visits to major ports last week. On Wednesday she took an hour long tour of the Port of Liverpool, including the Liverpool2 container terminal, following up on Friday with a call at the Port of Tilbury for a look at the developing Tilbury2 project.

The Liverpool call came after a trip to the offices of trade body Mersey Maritime and a new ‘knowledge hub’ being built on the Wirral. The MP said it was fantastic to finally see everything she had been discussing with operator Peel Ports for the past couple of years come to fruition. Mark Whitworth, CEO Peel Ports Group, said:

“At a time of significant change the maritime sector needs to keep logistics simple. Using ports closest to the origin and destination minimises the impact on our constrained road and rail infrastructure and is more environmentally responsible. Reducing the dependency on key southern ports, ports like Liverpool have the ability to play a pivotal role in supporting the regeneration of the North.

”This is also enabled in some cases by changing mode. A switch from RoRo trailer freight on the cross-channel routes to containerised cargo, between the continent and Irish Sea ports, can mitigate the impact of post-Brexit congestion on businesses operating in the North-West, Scotland and Ireland.”

Friday saw Ms Ghani receive a comprehensive overview of the Forth Ports Group's flagship investment in the 160 acre port terminal which is Tilbury2, alongside the community outreach, employment and re-training programmes to support former armed forces personnel and their families get back-to-work, utilising the Tilbury on the Thames Trust's high-tech simulator suite. Charles Hammond, Chief Executive of Forth Ports, commented:

"Forth Ports has a long-standing connection with the armed forces and is proud to support former soldiers, seamen and airmen back to work by equipping them with essential skills needed in a modern logistics setting through our range of training programmes harnessing our simulator suite. Our new port is nearing completion at a crucial time as the UK prepares to leave the European Union. Harnessing the best-in-class border processes, Tilbury2 will be Brexit ready when the first ship docks at the start of April."

Once again the Minister was also briefed on the benefits of short-sea container routes, particularly as it is Thames side Tilbury to and from northern and southern Europe, including the latest addition, a weekly service to Portugal (Lisbon and Leixões) operated by Samskip / X-Press Containerised, predominantly for fresh produce, beverages and manufactured goods.

As well as the £250 million project the Minister also met two female graduate trainees and heard about the Forth Port Group’s efforts to promote greater gender diversity, as part of the Women in Maritime initiative. She said:

"Ports are at the heart of the UK's economy and I was delighted to visit the Port of Tilbury today and see the progress being made with Tilbury2 after the major development was recently given the go-ahead by the Department for Transport. This is an impressive example of how we are supporting our ports to harness talent, boosting diversity and taking advantage of technologies to bolster the capabilities of nearly 30,000 people who work at the ports around the country."

Photo: Left to right: Stephen Carr, Commercial Director at Peel Ports, Shipping Minister Nusrat Ghani MP, Julia Bradley, Group Sales & Marketing Director at Peel Ports and Chris Shirling-Rooke, Chief Executive of Mersey Maritime.