Memorandum by Mersey Strategy (P 25)
PROSPECTS AT MAJOR PORTS' INQUIRY
This paper is in two sections, the first outlining
the importance of bringing ports into the estuary management process;
a practical example of how port development has been formally
included in the management framework for the Mersey Estuary is
shown, together with a discussion of some of the problems in engaging
port authorities in such activities and a practical example of
a missed opportunity to investigate sustainable development issues
through a pan-European project, the Port Cities project, because
of these problems.
The second section elaborates, in more detail,
on the Sustainable Port Cities project and outlines the type of
issues being investigated by the 11 project partners. These include
the effects of likely changes in global shipping and freight movements,
transport and infrastructure around port areas, environmental
legislation, dredging practices, spatial planning and environmental
management systems in port and port-related industries.
The Mersey Strategy is a public, private and
voluntary sector partnership working to implement the Mersey Estuary
Management Plan; a management framework designed to safeguard
the Mersey Estuary, adjacent land and marine environments whilst
providing policies to encourage sustainable development.
SECTION 1. PORTS
Many of Britain's major ports are located in
estuaries and many of our major estuaries contain ports. There
is, therefore, a clear need for ports to be part of any estuary
One example of how this can be achieved is the
Mersey Estuary Management Plan, also known as the Mersey Strategy,
which fully recognises the importance of commercial port activity
to the economic well-being of the estuary zone.
The Mersey Strategy is based around a vision
statement reproduced in full below:
"The Mersey Estuary Management Plan will
provide a framework for co-ordinated action. The plan will be
a key instrument in addressing critical management issues so as
to secure the sustainable development of the Mersey Estuary and
to maintain and develop its position as one of the region's most
valued environmental assets.
The Management Plan is based on a vision of
the future of the Mersey Estuary as one of the cleanest developed
estuaries in Europe, where the quality and dynamics of the natural
environment are recognised and respected and are matched by a
high quality built environment, a vibrant maritime economy, and
an impressive portfolio of estuary-related tourism and recreation
The Port of Liverpool is an active port, with
docks at various places along the length of the estuary up to
Eastham where the Manchester Ship Canal begins. Over 30 million
tonnes of freight comes into the docks each year. It is a major
trade route for shipping, particularly as a gateway for Europe.
The estuary receives up to 60 per cent of the industrial and domestic
water-borne pollution produced by the Mersey Basin's inhabitants,
and the banks of the estuary are home to some of the region's
largest and most lucrative petrochemical and chemical industries,
including Britain's second largest oil refinery. In addition a
large part of the estuary is protected under British, European
and international law for its importance to bird life.
Because of the developed nature of the Mersey
Estuary the issues covered in the plan are complex and it was
necessary to develop a strategic policy framework to establish
a common base for the systematic development of estuary policies
and management measures.
The estuary management framework looks at four
main policy areas, each broken down into strategic policy areas
with their own strategic objectives and management measures. One
of the main policy areas is Economic Development, which is then
sub-divided into: Commercial Navigation and Port Development,
Urban Regeneration, and Tourism.
Commercial Navigation and Port Development
This section contains the strategic objective:
"To support the continued commercial and
economic development of the estuary's ports and port-related employment
areas compatible with the Management Plan's environmental policies."
The following policies and management measures
(areas where specific actions are proposed) are contained within
1. Subject to economic and environmental
considerations, partner organisations should seek to maintain
commercial navigation channels from Liverpool Bay to the estuary's
ports and Ship Canal and their associated docks.
2. New activities or development within
the estuary zone should take into account the requirements for
continued access by shipping using commercial navigation channels.
3. Proposals for the expansion of port facilities
beyond port operators' existing estates designed to maintain the
competitiveness of the estuary's ports and take advantage of new
market opportunities should be identified at an early stage for
Management measure: subject to the
encouragement of interim uses which would not prejudice development,
suitable sites could be reserved for future port use.
4. Areas and sites should be identified
within the existing developed sections of the estuary zone where
preference should be given to port-related employment.
Management measure: undertaking a
technical study of the future demand for, and supply of, an appropriate
range of scale of industrial, storage and distribution sites for
new, expanding and relocating port-related industries and services
and their transport requirements in the port-related employment
areas and elsewhere in the estuary zone. Any proposals arising
from the study should be subject to an environmental appraisal.
Management measure: defining existing
port-related employment areas within which preference will be
given to actions, including local environmental up-grading where
appropriate, supporting the retention of existing, and attracting
new, port-related users.
Management measure: encouraging the
availability of a range of sizes of sites, of types of potential
users and of development programming priorities including land
reclamation and infrastructure provision within port-related employment
Management measure: supporting the
Port of Liverpool's role as a European gateway for deep sea and
short sea traffic through providing for the development of port-related
activities on a regional strategic "Flagship" scale
at a site adjacent to the port and rail freight terminal at Seaforth.
Management measure: providing, either
individually or in partnership with other agencies, for the reclamation
and re-use of appropriate disused port or dockland sites for small,
medium, and larger-scale port-related users.
5. Support should be offered to actions
designed to promote the commercial and economic development of
the estuary zone's port and port-related firms and locations.
Management measure: continuing and
developing, financial, business advice and training and enterprise
support schemes related to port operations and port-related employment,
including skill enhancement, starter firms, and the development
of small and medium-sized firms.
6. A technical assessment, which will need
to include environmental protection and sedimentation considerations,
should be made of future dredging obligations in the estuary zone
and any disposal considerations. The assessment should cover dredging
obligations for the maintenance of existing navigation channels
and water depth in the estuary's docks and the Ship Canal and
for other statutory reasons.
Management measure: the assessment,
some items of which are already being undertaken, should be structured
on a comprehensive basis to:
(i) establish the scope and direct of
future policies including international agreements, relating to
the deposit of dredgings on landsites and at sea;
(ii) define criteria for assessing proposals
for additional or alternative deposit grounds or locations;
(iii) specify the rate of current and
likely future dredgings and their deposit requirements;
(iv) establish the capacity and acceptability
of current deposit grounds;
(v) identify areas of search and alternative
(vi) incorporate environmental appraisals
of any specific additional or alternative deposit ground proposals.
7. Partner organisations should promote
the adoption of best practice to enable the estuary's port operations
to fulfil their commercial and economic roles while minimising
harmful environmental effects
Management measure: establishing
and adopting an Environmental Code of Practice for the Mersey
Estuary which will encourage port operators and users to improve
environmental standards, establish environmental management systems,
and promote consultation with local communities, local authorities,
environmental agencies and voluntary bodies.
Management measure: providing, through
the Environmental Code, for the environmental assessment of, and
consultation procedures about, significant proposals in the estuary
zone which fall within existing permitted development rights and
are exempt from development control. A useful first step would
be to establish a comprehensive baseline of information about
the nature and extent of port operators' existing permitted rights.
Implementation of the Mersey Estuary Management
Plan is overseen by a series of Implementation Groups, one for
each of the four main policy areas. These groups are made up of
representatives of many different organisations who have an interest
in the particular policy area with reference to the Mersey Estuary.
Examples include voluntary organisations such as the Royal Yachting
Association, Government agencies such as the Environment Agency
and English Nature, Local Authorities, Government Office North
West, the Mersey Conservancy and organisations representing the
business sector such as Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
and individual businesses such as North West Water,
Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, the Manchester Ship Canal Company
and Peel Holdings.
It can be seen from the list of policies and
management measures above that port development and commercial
shipping activity is, in theory, fully integrated into the estuary
management process. In practice, however, this has not proved
to be as easy as it would seem as it has proved difficult to engage
with the relevant people in the port management companies, and
although, as shown above, they do have some dialogue with the
Strategy, this has been minimal and sporadic.
Possibly this may be because the port authorities
might see the Strategy as primarily an environmental organisation
which will therefore be against development. This is not, in fact,
the case, the policy of the Mersey Strategy being to remain neutral
on development issues. The role of the Strategy is to bring to
the attention of developers and other relevant authorities the
relevant sections of the Management Plan in order to ensure that
all relevant issues have received due consideration.
One example of this lack of effective engagement
locally is the Port Cities Project in which the Mersey Strategy
is a partner. Many of the European partners in the project are
the port authority for their area and were thus able to take lead
roles in the project, which is reported on in more detail below,
however it proved impossible to engage the major local port company
on the Mersey, thus preventing the Mersey taking a lead part in
This represents a significant missed opportunity
for the local ports to investigate at a local level the threats
and opportunities offered by various sustainable development issues,
including transport infrastructure, dredging practices, environmental
legislation, spatial planning and environmental management systems
in port and port-related industries and projections of future
trends in global shipping and freight movements.
SECTION 1: PORTS
To obtain a complete picture of the opportunities
and development prospects for major ports located within estuaries,
and, no doubt, in other areas too, it is necessary to take a holistic
view and not just to view the port itself in isolation. The estuary
management process, becoming increasingly widespread in Britain's
major estuaries, offers a significant opportunity for port authorities
to explore, develop and realise their full potential within the
wider context of both the urban and natural environments in which
they are situated. The estuary management process can also offer
a useful tool for conflict avoidance and resolution along with
the development and sharing of best practice.
SECTION 2: INTERREG
"A SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT
The Interreg IIc Port Cities Project is an EU-funded
project addressing issues and challenges facing the future development
of "Port Cities" ie areas based around commercial ports
and port-related operations in the North West Metropolitan Area
of Europe. The project is scheduled to last 24 months from August
|Communaute Urbaine de Dunkerque (Lead Partner)
|Agence d'Urbanisme de la Region du Havre
|District de l'Agglomeration Rouennaise
|Syndicat Mixte de Port Jerome||France
|Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie du Havre
|North Sea CanalRegional Development Agency
|Thames Estuary Partnership||UK
|Port of Cork||Eire
|Stitching Europort Botlek Belanger (Rotterdam)
The project aims to create a partnership between several
North West Metropolitan Area port cities in order to:
Provide a general and projected picture of the
growth of ports in the next 20 years.
Identify and compare the different measures aimed
at integrating environmental and sustainable concerns into the
development process of partner cities and their ports.
Tackle a number of issues related to sustainable
development in port areas: industrial risk management, dredging,
traffic management, implementation of environmental management
systems and spatial planning conflicts.
Produce for each partner a set of recommendations
aiming at a better integration of environmental and sustainable
development issues. These recommendations will allow a common
standard between the partners on these issues and, as a result,
a better integration of territories in the North West Metropolitan
Four pilot studies will be carried out. Each will be led
by a different partner, with inputs from some of the other partners.
The final output for each of the pilot studies will be the production
of best practice guidance notes, which will feed into the common
The four pilot studies are:
(1) Best Practice Guidelines for Establishing Dredging
Regimes for Maintaining Navigation, Identifying and Managing Disposal
Sites and Aggregate WinningLead partner: Thames Estuary
Partnership with support from Mersey Strategy, Port of Cork and
(2) Tranport and InfrastructureLead partner Medway
Council with support from Rouen, le Havre, Dunkerque and the North
Sea Canal Regional Development Agency.
(3) The Implementation and impact of Environmental Management
Systems in Port and Port-related IndustriesLead partner
Dunkerque and Europort Botlek (Rotterdam) with support from the
Mersey Strategy, Medway Council and Port Jerome. An additional
pilot is being carried out by Europort Botlek (Rotterdam) to supplement
this project: Waste Exchange in Port-related Industries.
(4) Comparative Review of Approaches to Conflict Avoidance
and Development Constraints (Tools for Territorial Planning, Implementation
of Environmental European Regulations into National Law)Lead
partners Le Havre and Rouen with support from Port of Cork, Mersey
Strategy and the Thames Estuary Partnership.
In addition to the pilot studies outlined consultants have
been commissioned to look at the development potential of port
cities in north western Europe. The phase 1 report has now been
completed and, in addition to analysing commonalities between
partner port areas, reports on:
The effects of globalisation on port traffic growth.
The northern range ports.
The principle factors influencing port development:
Changes in production processes.
Changes in transport flows.
The impact of EU environmental legislation.
The principle factors influencing the development of ports
include: the economic strength of the port's region; the level
of accessibility to and from the ports' hinterlands to improve
access to closest markets, and the level of efficiency and quality
of services offered so as to move away from merely industrial
functions to logistic functions, building on information and communication
technology (ICT) potentials.
The principle factors influencing ports' traffic trade are:
environmental pressures to reduce road traffic and promote multi-modal
transport routes; the economic development of accession countries;
changes in relation to energy production and new sources of energy,
with greater interest in sustainable energy products and self-sufficiency,
and the impact of the global free market and post-industrial changes
due to the expansion of ICT.
"A SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT
Although not yet complete, the Port Cities project findings
to date address many of the problems and opportunities faced by
ports and place these issues in both a European and global context.
Work continues on both the common study and the individual pilot
projects and the findings are expected to be presented at a conference
in Autumn 2001.
Manager, Mersey Strategy
17 January 2001
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