MTC partners coordinated a successful dissemination event at the Scottish Parliament (Holyrood) in Edinburgh on Wednesday 21st November. The Policy Paper “Maritime Transport and Future Policies - Perspectives from the North Sea Region”, offering a compilation of results generated by the North Sea Region Programme’s project Maritime Transport Cluster, was presented to an audience comprising the maritime industries, public bodies, Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSP’s) and research institutions.
The event was kindly sponsored by Mike Mackenzie MSP, also with contributions from MTC partners Port of Hamburg Marketing, the Dutch ProSea Foundation, and Edinburgh Napier University, who organised the event.
The MTC policy paper comprises an analysis of all transport related projects, plus analysis of maritime transport research, and the results of a consultation with the maritime industry in the North Sea Region.
The intention of the paper is to provide a coordinated and comprehensive picture of the ‘hot topics’ facing maritime transport in the North Sea Region and to present concrete recommendations for MEPs, the Commission and the countries in the region. The paper is intended to act as an inspiration and to contribute to discussions on future EU cohesion and transport policy developments.
The event at Holyrood demonstrated the importance of maritime policy for international competitiveness, trade development, and hence economic growth and jobs, also taking into account the need for sustainable transport and logistics solutions.
Left to right: Mike MacKenzie (MSP), Professor Alf Baird (Edinburgh Napier University), Stefan Breitenbach (Port of Hamburg Marketing), Roy N. Pedersen (Pedersen Consulting)
Stefan Breitenbach of Port of Hamburg Marketing, emphasised the need for maritime policy initiatives to enable future planning of maritime infrastructure, and the need to take into account a rapidly changing and challenging environment. He outlined various initiatives that Port of Hamburg are taking to help further develop cruise shipping, container transport and in particular to strengthen rail connections, and extend use of shoreside power for ships and application of low sulphur solutions such as LNG fuel.
Professor Alf Baird of Edinburgh Napier University suggested the Scottish Parliament needs to have a much stronger focus on maritime policy, to help improve seaport quality and the competitiveness of shipping connections. At the present time the Scottish Parliament does not have a maritime policy; this could reflect the downturn in trade flowing via Scottish seaports over recent years. He said that Scotland requires a maritime policy to also reflect the goals of the EU Integrated Maritime Policy. Professor Baird has published a number of articles setting out what initiatives could be considered within a Scottish maritime policy.
Delegates including shipping lines attending stated that high port charges and inflexible port cargo handling arrangements (e.g. port services) were holding back their ability to attract more trade or extend their shipping services. Major Scottish seaports moved from comprehensive trusts to comprehensive private ports, unlike most other ports elsewhere in Europe where private terminal operators lease their terminals from a public landlord port authority. The profit motive and rather more short term perspective for Scottish major ports is also perhaps constraining investments.
Mike Mackenzie MSP concluded that Members of the Scottish Parliament had learned much from the presentation of MTC results and the exchange of views. Seaports and international trade until now have not featured highly in Parliament, yet the connection with trade facilitation, competitiveness, economic growth was well emphasised by Port of Hamburg and other examples. MSP’s have now proposed to introduce a Cross Party Group which will take further evidence from stakeholders and further discuss a maritime policy for Scotland and its implications.