Monday, 8 June 2009

FTA warns UK ports at risk

The UK’s Freight Transport Association (FTA) has cautiously welcomed a report from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) on shipping’s carbon emissions but warned if implemented it could cause UK ports to lose traffic to continental rivals.

The FTA welcomed the EAC’s promotion of a more robust methodology to determine the UK’s share of international shipping emissions.

But it said that a global approach to shipping emissions is needed to avoid penalising UK businesses.

The FTA’s head of global supply chain policy Christopher Snelling said: “Shipping makes a substantial contribution to the overall carbon footprint of the freight industry so any attempt to address this issue sensibly should be applauded.

“Shipping does need to improve its emissions record, but measures putting the UK on an uneven playing field on a global scale should be avoided.”

The FTA said the EAC report urged the government to impose a system of UK port dues relative to the environmental performance of different ships.

“This would make little difference to emissions on a global scale while putting UK shippers at a serious disadvantage, with cargoes being diverted to major European competitor ports such as Rotterdam, Le Havre, Hamburg and Antwerp,” the FTA warned.
Snelling added: “Proposed increases to light dues, infrastructure and security surcharges mean it is already more expensive to use UK ports. For this reason, FTA strongly opposes the concept of UK port dues.

“Indeed, greater charges could mean deepsea vessels avoid the UK altogether, meaning we are left with only feeder services – this will bring increased costs, time and uncertainty to the UK’s supply chain.

“While no-one can argue with the fact that shipping emissions have to be curbed, we must also be careful that the effect of this isn’t that any freight gets priced onto air services instead.

“As such, the best mechanism to achieve environmental improvement and meet climate change reduction targets is the inclusion of an emissions trading scheme, ideally on a global basis, along with other international activities such as aviation.”

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