Monday, December 4, 2017

UK Warehousing Association Welcomes Government Plans to Study Freight and Logistics Infrastructure

UKWA Has Long Foreseen Potential Problems Ahead in the Supply Chain
Shipping News Feature
UK – Many in the logistics sector worry that the government are not facing up to the potential problems faced by the most essential of our industries, that of the freight sector, upon which every living soul depends on a daily basis. Now the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) has welcomed the recent announcement that Chancellor Hon Philip Hammond MP has instructed that the next in-depth study to be undertaken by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) will be on the future of freight. UKWA CEO, Peter Ward, commented:

“We are delighted that at last the importance of freight movements in the urban environment has been placed high on the agenda by the government in planning a sustainable future that meets the needs of rising populations with rapidly changing demands. UKWA has been working to highlight the challenges faced by the industry, particularly around urban logistics, and we stand ready to support the National Infrastructure Commission in every way possible.”

The UKWA has been something of a bellwether with regard to the dangers of neglecting the supply chain, in January we published details of the organisation’s report ‘Feeding London 2030 – facing the logistical challenge’ and nobody present at the release of that document could fail to be chilled by the prospect of a paper which found London’s supply chains are ‘at risk of failure’. The report has subsequently been hailed by industry leaders as a valuable source of data for all stakeholders in the food & beverage and food service supply chains operating in London.

In 2015 the UKWA commissioned and published a report in conjunction with leading property consultant Savills, which highlighted a critical lack of real estate supply and appropriate development in the logistics sector. At that time Peter Ward warned that ‘policy makers must move to legislate to allow for the growth of warehousing space or risk developing a critical pinch point for UK industry’.

Early in the new year, the NIC says it will issue a ‘Call for Evidence’, giving those involved or with strong interests in freight the opportunity to put forward their thoughts, issues and ideas on the future of freight in the UK. It plans to use these views, along with wider evidence and research it is conducting, to help deliver an interim report in autumn 2018, and a final report by Spring 2019.

The preparation of the report will be under the terms of reference issued by the Chancellor and viewable here. On hearing of the Chancellors statement Peter Ward concluded:

“UKWA is uniquely placed to work with the NIC to provide relevant resource, knowledge and market experience. In addition to independent surveys and intelligence directly from our membership, we are also able to offer expert input from the UKWA Advisory Boards, which bring together industry leaders and specialists to share knowledge, best practice and develop thought leadership on issues such as infrastructure and technology.”

Whilst it may have greeted the forthcoming report, it would not be out of place for the UKWA, and indeed any other organisation as closely involved in the supply chain, to perhaps feel a little uncomfortable when reading those Terms of Reference. In places there seems to be a heavy emphasis on the negatives, with such phrases as ‘congestion...impacted heavily by a recent increase in LGV traffic’ and ‘work alongside Metro mayors as they develop their city-region infrastructure assessments’.

Hopefully those preparing the report will realise the overwhelming importance of prioritising freight infrastructure, concentrating on the usefulness of new technologies and aiding their introduction, whilst recognising the potential for catastrophe should rapidly introduced over regulation be thrust upon an industry, the cost of which affects every household.