Investment across the UK’s ports and logistics infrastructure is key to unlocking the next chapter of international trade after Brexit, and could significantly boost the UK’s economy. That was the view of ministers and other senior politicians at an exclusive reception hosted at Westminster last week by Peel Ports.
Over 100 guests from the political, shipping and business communities attended the evening event, which focused on transatlantic opportunities and the importance of strengthening trade links between the UK and the Americas.
Transport Minister, John Hayes MP, Lord Prescott and Jake Berry MP, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse were present, alongside leading UK businesses such as B&M Retail and Morning Food.
Peel Ports, which owns and operates a number of ports around the UK and Ireland, has invested heavily in its infrastructure in recent years. Its Strategic Projects Director, Gary Hodgson, explained the decision to develop the £400m container terminal, Liverpool2, which opened last year, had acted as a ‘catalyst for change’ for UK’s import and export potential.
He said: “We took the bold move to invest heavily at Liverpool, knowing that if we built the ambitious infrastructure this would support higher productivity for the UK market, and in turn create an injection into the local economy, Liverpool and the Northern Powerhouse. We are investing for the future right across the UK, inland and portside, and realise the positive impact a well performing multimodal logistics sector can have on the UK economy’s balance sheet.” The event, held on Thursday 16 November, was sponsored by Bill Esterson, Labour MP for Sefton and Shadow Minister for Business and International Trade.
He said: “Peel Ports’ significant investment of £750 million into the Port of Liverpool and inland logistics has helped to create jobs, skills and opportunities for young people not only in and around the Sefton area of Liverpool, but beyond. This is good news for my Sefton Central constituents and for thousands more besides across the city region. UK Ports are incredibly important to our economy and I fully welcome and support Peel Ports’ fresh and dynamic approach to ensuring we adapt and act as leaders ready to develop worldwide trade opportunities. Peel is playing its part in generating the infrastructure for businesses in our region but can’t do it alone. The government is committed to High Speed 2 from South to North, but needs to build new west to east railway lines, especially to increase the amount of freight carried by rail. It is absurd that it takes nine hours to move biomass fuel from the Port of Liverpool to Selby, just 90 miles away and government must play its part for the Port to fulfil its full potential role in boosting the prosperity of the Liverpool City Region and the North West of England.”
Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry said: “We are investing a record £13 billion in transport in the North of England - more than any government in history. With a shared voice, Transport for the North will drive forward ambitious plans to improve transport connections and unlock economic growth across the Northern Powerhouse. Companies such as Peel Ports Group have led from the very front by investing heavily and promoting the potential of the Northern Powerhouse, which is the eighth biggest economy in Europe. We must nurture this incredibly productive area if we want it to continue generating jobs and increasing the UK’s productivity.”
John Hayes MP said: “Our Ports have played an important role in boosting the UK’s economy throughout our long history as a proud maritime nation. Ports will continue to be vital for successful trading relationships as we look to forge our future outside of the European Union. Investment and initiatives made by Peel Ports will help deliver real economic growth, create jobs and develop a skilled workforce across the country.”
Jeffries Briginshaw - CEO, British American Business Council, said: “The US/UK economic relationship is key to transatlantic business growth and prosperity, and we wholly welcome increased relations between UK and American ports. We recognise the thriving logistics proposition on offer through UK ports as adding both to UK export success and UK investment attractiveness. The formula for the continued success of this relationship is resilience, regeneration and redistribution of profits regionally and nationally.”
Lord Prescott said: “Connectivity and transport are a critical part in reducing carbon and improving productivity and efficiency. It clearly makes more sense to deliver goods intended for the north to ports in the north instead of driving them hundreds of miles. We also need an east-west connectivity solution as part of the rail freight strategy. I want to congratulate Peel Ports in combining public and private sector and creating an excitement about growth impacting across the North-west.”