Freight Connections Prioritised in Government Review

The government’s interim Union Connectivity Review has acknowledged the need for faster and higher capacity freight connections around the UK. The report also highlights the need for better links between the upcoming freeport zones, according to an article by the British Ports Association (BPA). 

The recommendations are part of a wider review of the UK’s transport network, which aims to stimulate growth as the economy recovers from the effects of the Covid-19 shutdown. It has been previously noted by the BPA that the four nations administration sometimes have competing priorities, leading to blind spots and the neglection of some routes.

Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive of the BPA, commented: “We welcome recognition of the criticality of maritime transport to union connectivity in the interim report published today by the Review. There are some useful recommendations on certain routes and strategic networks which we welcome discussion on.”

Although the plans have been broadly welcomed by the maritime freight transport industry, concerns have been raised about a proposed bridge or tunnel link between Britain and Northern Ireland. There are already numerous shipping routes between the two countries, which provide both jobs and gateways to further destinations.

Freight transporters across all sectors appear to have little enthusiasm for a permanent link, which will potentially cost tens of billions of pounds. The BPA suggests the government would achieve a much better return on investment if the money was instead spent on improving the whole of the UK transport network.

The BPA also points out that shipping is the most carbon-efficient mode of transport, and a new bridge or tunnel link would greatly increase greenhouse emission levels. Neither would it resolve the post-Brexit border issue, as the same customs requirements would be imposed on goods, regardless of the transportation method.

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