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American Shipper

U.K. government publishes interim ports policy review

U.K. government publishes interim ports policy review

   Britain’s Shipping Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said Thursday the government will keep a “light touch” approach to ports regulation, as he announced the publication of an interim report detailing the findings so far of the Department for Transport’s Ports Policy Review (PPR) due later this year.

   The Interim Report — available from the DfT at: www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/shippingports/ports/portspolicyreview/portspolicyreviewinterimreport — sets out specific actions on issues such as demand forecasting, the future of trust ports, master plans and the safeguarding of land for port operations. The issue of inland access to ports and on ports planning were not covered in the report, as Fitzpatrick said more time was needed to respond to new programs such as the Eddington Study and the proposed Planning Reform Bill.

   “Central to our approach is our view that commercial port operators are best-placed to make decisions about where and when to invest,” Fitzpatrick said. “We do not propose any substantial change in the operating and regulatory framework for ports. But, recognizing the vital importance of ports large and small to national, regional and local economies, it is the government’s responsibility to create the conditions in which investment is encouraged and sustainability is ensured.”

   The London-based Freight Transport Association, which represents British shippers and transport providers, welcomed the findings of the report, but said that inland connections remain the most pressing issue facing the development of the country’s ports.

   “Hopefully it is a good sign that the government has held back its decisions on inland connections, to coordinate with its response to Eddington,” said Christopher Snelling, the FTA's head of global supply chain policy.

   “The Eddington Report was clear about the significance of international gateways to the future of the U.K. economy, and so we hope this will inform DfT’s thinking in that area,” Snelling said.

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