The owners of the UK’s largest and most influential ports will gather in London to address delegates, as the UK Ports Conference returns as a face-to-face event for the first time since 2019.
The two-day event, chaired by British Ports Association (BPA) chief executive Richard Ballantyne OBE, is being held on 25th-26th May 2022 and will feature a keynote address from Robert Courts MP, parliamentary under-secretary for state at the Department of Transport. Mr Courts will outline how recent and future government policy, including the introduction of Freeports across the UK, will support port growth and development as the sector continues to adapt to changes is global trade and shipping patterns, while developing effective carbon reduction strategies.
The first wave of Freeport locations was revealed by the UK government in March 2021, while UK and Scottish ministers agreed an alternative ‘Green Freeports’ partnership last month. Devolved administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland continue to weigh up the implications and benefits of the policy.
Associated British Ports (ABP), which operates 21 ports including major ports in the Humber and Solent Freeports, has previously highlighted the increasing importance of ports as enablers of economic growth as well as gateways for trade. Julian Walker, ABP’s chief commercial officer, will join other Freeport operators on day one of the UK Ports Conference and feels the event comes at a crucial time for both ports and the UK economy.
“Port operators represent some of the biggest investors in UK infrastructure, constantly increasing and upgrading to allow for growth and evolving trends in global trade,” said Mr Walker. “We also have available development land to accommodate new port centric manufacturing, support renewable energy projects, and create centres of innovation, all of which can benefit from good access to international supply routes and global markets.”
“When you factor in Freeport policy, which will attract new investment in future industries, the proposition becomes extremely attractive. The locations of the eight sites also mean that there is the potential to create significant opportunities for local businesses and supply chain in each of the eight regions, helping to play a significant role in the levelling up agenda.”
Another conference speaker is John Lucy, head of the Liverpool Freeport region, who has stressed the importance of Freeports in the UK’s push towards net zero carbon emissions. Liverpool’s Freeport zone will soon be served by a fleet of hydrogen-powered lorries that will carry freight between the multiple sites. Mr Lucy mention the value of collaboration and communication in maximising the impact and benefits of Freeports.
“The success of Liverpool’s Freeport will require multi-sectoral collaboration with the private sector working closely with Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, local economic partners, universities, colleges and the wider community. The Freeport will help raise living standards in the region through the introduction of new jobs, skills training and investment in infrastructure and technology and will undoubtedly create a wealth of opportunity for current and future generations to come.”
The UK Ports Conference 2022 will be held at the Congress Centre in London, but the event will also be delivered virtually for registered delegates. The event is organised by Waterfront Conference Company, which delivers physical and virtual policy conferences for the planning, energy, rail, ports and maritime sectors.
Source: Waterfront Conference Company