Memorandum by The Institute of Chartered
Shipbrokers (P 20)
OPPORTUNITIES AND DEVELOPMENT PROSPECTS OF
UK PORTS MAKE
Considering that in excess of 90 per cent of
the UK foreign trade is carried by sea, the influence of UK ports
cannot be under-estimated.
Over the years UK ports have had to cope with
a dramatic change in their methods of cargo handling and the growth
of containerisation and roll on/roll off.
By their steady improvement in productivity
and turn round of vessels their priority has been to increase
the productivity of ship owners by enabling them to make more
voyages resulting in increasing profitability. This has helped
to lead, together with intense competition, to a downward trend
and stabilisation in freight rates for both import and export
The competition between UK ports therefore ensures
the quality of service to ship owners.
2. PROBLEMS AND
The size of vessels has increased dramatically
over the last few years with 6,000 TEU ships becoming commonplace,
8,000 TEU vessels already in service and larger vessels under
serious consideration. This leads to a requirement for dredging
to increase draft, increased quay facilities to provide adequate
storage for increased volumes, the development of efficient off-take
and receiving facilities to reduce the impact of quay rent and
demurrage and the provision of ship to shore machinery to handle
ships of ever increasing width.
Without such facilities there is a danger that
continental ports would become more attractive and UK ports would
be reduced to a feeder basis, with the obvious down turn in handling
There is a growing awareness of the need for
stringent safeguards for the health and safety of all personnel
involved in the handling of cargo and vessels. Ports are dangerous
places and only by maintenance of the strictest safety regulations
and training can the excellent safety record be maintained.
3. UK PORTS AND
There is presently a directive by the European
Council with regard to competition between and within ports. In
our opinion there is already very healthy competition existing
between UK ports leading to the best terms being offered to users
of the facilities. This is borne out by the moving of lines to
ports offering more economic and strategic possibilities.
We can envisage extreme difficulties, if not
impossibilities, should insistence be made for more than one provider
in any port in the UK where an established Port Authority exists.
At the very least this would inhibit investment due to the knowledge
that equipment could be hived off to a third party arbitrarily,
with the resultant down grading of the facilities available to
every potential port user.
The port industry of the UK has already evidenced
achieved a standard of excellence in the use of the present methods
of handling and one should at least be aware of the premise that
where competition does exist there is no need to repair something
that is not broken.
4. THE FUTURE
The ports must be allowed to develop in line
with the facilities required by the port users, whether container,
roll-on roll-off or specialist handling, and only then will they
have the confidence to invest the required finance and expertise.
One must not lose sight of the fact that UK
ports are already suffering financial disadvantage in comparison
with continental ports by imposition of light dues. More than
£60 million per annum is collected through light dues with
some glaring omissions from those paying such fees. The unfair
proportion of the dues is paid by the large ocean going container/bulk
vessels whereas short sea ferries escape extremely lightly when
the comparison includes the number of port calls made.
The Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers maintains
its opposition to such a charge.