Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Wynns Consultants (P 13)


  We write in reference to the above and would like to offer evidence for consideration by the Committee, in particular, with regard to the major ports in England and Wales specifically use of the hinterland and their land transport links and such other policies should be pursued to benefit such ports.

  Wynns Limited are Independent Transport Consultants specialising in the movement of Abnormal Indivisible Loads. Contracted to the majority of CEGB successor companies, Wynns carry out planning work for AIL movements with emphasis on environmental and strategic considerations to allow such load movements (typically around 300 tonnes gross) to be managed safely, within appropriate timescales, at reasonable costs and with consideration to the environment.

  1.1.1  The movement of Abnormal Indivisible Loads (AIL's) over certain dimensions and weights above 150 tonnes gross are subject to agreement and the approval of the Secretary of State. The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) regulate movements and have adopted a policy whereby road movements will only be considered where water transport has been considered not to be feasible.

  1.1.2  Implementation of such policy requires numbers of AIL movements through both UK ports and, in the hinterland, via river and canal systems.

  1.1.3  Based upon our experience in discharging our role as planner of AIL movements we wish to draw attention to the following:

  1.2.1  Current Government policy predominantly directs AIL movements to ship through the nearest suitable port, irrespective of whether use of the port is commercially advantageous in terms of the port's charging structure, availability of quays or other facilities.

  1.2.2  Although applauding Government policy to minimise road congestion by use of ports, canals or waterways, industry has little or no redress against owners or operators of such facilities who disadvantage AIL movements through either monopoly charging, the delaying of the use by attendance to their own commercial considerations or overly onerous contract conditions.

  1.3.1  Shipping of AIL's often necessitates access through smaller fishing and pleasure boat orientated ports as well as larger commercial ports. Over recent years, certain ports have been turned over entirely to pleasure craft or closed altogether, eg Preston Docks, North Shields and Cardiff.

  1.3.2  Inland ports and wharves are disappearing generally through regeneration toward pleasure and housing schemes, eg Salford Quays.

  1.3.3  Since Government policy on use of water is designed to maximise water and reduce road usage, how do Government reconcile such a laudable policy with such losses preventing use or allow for such facilities to be lost?

  1.4.1  In 1970, the National Ports Council issued their final report detailing 13 recommendations, the majority of which remain valid today.

  1.4.2  Over 30 years later, few of the recommendations have been progressed and many of the key problem issues have deteriorated.

  1.4.3  There appears to have been no mechanism to measure and review progress of the report.

  1.4.4  The present Government would appear committed to at least discussing integrated transport and very much to their credit are making progress through the freight facilities grant (FFG) process.

  1.4.5  In consideration of these same issues being as much, if not more relevant than 30 years ago, there still appears to be a lack of a co-ordinated approach to the integration of industry and infrastructure with regard to the transportation of large plant.

T H S West

Research and Political Affairs Department

19 January 2001

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