The substantial potential of North East ports to help grow the region’s economy, and initiatives to encourage more businesses to export, are set out in a new report to be released tomorrow (25 October 2019).
Produced by North East England Chamber of Commerce and transatlantic law firm Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD), the detailed study, Global North East – a Gateway to the World, highlights a range of ways the region can benefit from improved connectivity. Ports were outlined as particularly important for increasing the region’s international trade but they are currently facing unhelpful restrictions, due to limited rail and road routes around them.
Chamber policy adviser for transport Marianne O’Sullivan said: “Ports are key for international trade as around 95% of British imports and exports are moved by sea. Following the publication of this report we will be campaigning to get improved access to the North East’s ports to facilitate trade and increase the £270 million GVA the maritime industry contributes to the North East.”
Kevin Bell, partner, WBD said: “As a law firm with an ever increasing transatlantic and global outlook, we wanted to specifically look at how investment in our region's infrastructure can support the international ambitions of North East business.
"Transport and infrastructure is one of our key specialist sectors at WBD and so we understand the issues that need to be addressed "close to home" here in the North East.”
The study recommends building on the Port of Tyne’s maritime innovation hub to showcase the North East as a maritime ‘smart port’ making use of new technology such as tracking containers and combining the different specialist areas of each of the North East’s ports.
It also stresses the importance of gaining additional freight capacity to support goods being transported from the region’s ports and airports.
Northern ports are currently facing driver shortages and it is estimated there will be additional export/import volumes of 25% by 2024. The report stresses the need to make it easier for businesses to use rail freight to access the North East’s ports or economic growth potential will remain unfulfilled.
The report recommends increasing capacity on the Trans-Pennine and East Coast Mainline routes. These connectivity issues need to be tackled to help businesses transport their goods.
Other infrastructure improvements outlined in the report include A1, A19, A66 dualling and additional links to Heathrow with more time slots and extra connections from the region.
The report will now be discussed with local authorities, businesses, local and national politicians. It will also feed into the Chamber’s on-going campaign to get improvements to the East Coast Mainline rail route.
The results were based on interviews with transport and export stakeholders such as Newcastle International Airport as well as international businesses.
Photo caption: left to right: Steven Clapperton, Director of HSE and Marine Harbour Master, Port of Tyne, Marianne O’Sullivan, Chamber and Kevin Bell, WBD.