Memorandum by Burford Group PLC (IW 10)
THE POTENTIAL OF INLAND WATERWAYS
Following the Government's publication of Waterways
for Tomorrow as a daughter document to the Integrated Transport
White Paper the House of Commons Environmental, Transport and
Regional Affairs Committee has resolved to hold an enquiry to
examine the proposals and the extent to which they can be implemented.
It is noted that the inquiry intends to look at the potential
of inland waterways and wish to inquire particularly into a number
of issues, one of which includes freightthe main concern
of this memorandum submitted by Burford Group Plc.
There appears to be general consensus on the
driving forces identified behind Government policy. These are
the growing concerns being expressed about worsening road congestion
levels and environmental impact, especially the contribution to
air pollution. The Government's objective of seeking a better
use from all transport modes, including water is detailed. Reference
is made to encouraging greater use of inland waterways, where
this is a practical and economic option. In essence, a reading
of recent official publications show that the Government is pledged
to making better use of coastal shipping and inland waterways.
This memorandum puts the issues and Government policy into context
and Burford's interest in water freight transport.
Burford Group Plc is a publicly quoted property
investment and development company with gross assets exceeding
£1 billion. It operates predominantly in the UK and covers
all property sectors including distribution and industrial property.
It intends to set up a linked UK network of large distribution
and manufacturing parks with multimodal capabilities.
According to the remit of the inquiry inland
waterways is defined to include both tidal and non-tidal rivers
and canals. Within this context Burford expresses an interest
in the River Severn and large canals, such as the Manchester Ship
Canal, which are capable of catering for coastal or ocean going
ships. We do not address the issue of narrow boat canals, which
are mainly targeted for leisure purposes. However, we do believe
large canals and rivers are a greatly under utilised national
asset, which if properly used can allow deep inland penetration
to serve major conurbations, are energy efficient transport modes,
can contribute to lowering Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions
and overall assist the Government in its integrated transport
policy and meeting set environmental targets.
The aspect of inland waterways and freight potential
has direct relevance to Burford's on-going intermodal freight
developments. Currently, Burford is engaged in developing two
large scale intermodal freight developments which are road/rail
served. Both sites also have the potential for a water freight
element. These include:
Cabot ParkInternational Rail
Freight Terminal, Manufacturing and Distribution Park, adjacent
to Avonmouth Docks; and
and Distribution Park, adjacent to the Manchester Ship Canal.
Additionally, it is anticipated that Burford
will have an interest in developing other intermodal sites. These,
it is expected, will also contain a water element.
The inquiry is interested in how waterborne
freight transport can assist in meeting the objectives of the
Government's Integrated Transport White Paper. These objectives
are detailed in two key documents. The 1998 White Paper, A
New Deal for Transport: Better For Everyone and the 1999 daughter
document, Sustainable Distribution: A Strategy. For clarification
purposes we believe it is worthwhile reiterating the Government
objectives, which are:
to improve the efficiency of distribution;
make better use of the transport
manage development pressures on the
landscapeboth natural and man made;
reduce noise and disturbance from
freight movements; and
reduce the number of accidents, injuries
and cases of ill-health associated with freight movement.
Burford believes that intermodal freight developments
having an inland water element can assist towards the achievement
of the above objectives.
Burford, as a responsible and caring developer,
has kept fully abreast of environmental and transport issues.
Burford's approach has been to ensure that their intermodal developments
are full square in line with Government policy. We support an
integrated transport policy, making best use of all available
modes where this is appropriate, economical and practical. We
also recognise the importance and significance of sustainability.
Sustainability is not only a domestic issue, it is a world-wide
issue with influence and impact for us all. Both at Cabot Park
and Trafford Interchange it is Burford's intention to promote
the use of rail and water as sustainable means of freight distribution
and as our corporate contribution towards providing new logistics
solutions for all industry sectors.
Ports are an important infrastructure element
in the logistics supply chain. In the Government's Consultation
on Developing an Integrated Transport Policy: A Report, DETR
1998, it was stated that ports should play a full role in supporting
the competitiveness of their regions. Furthermore, that any port
development takes place in ways which are sympathetic to the surrounding
natural environment and local communities; and that greater use
is made of inland waterways as an alternative to road transport
where this is a practical and economic option. In this document
the Government stated it would explore the scope for making use
of this environmentally attractive resource.
A key plank of Government transport policy is
to encourage more freight to be carried by alternative transport
modes, such as rail and water. The daughter document Sustainable
Distribution: A Strategy emphasises the desire for the best
use made of inland waterways for transporting freight and to keep
unnecessary lorries off the road. The Government has stated that
the aim of its sustainable distribution strategy must be to ensure
that the future development of the distribution industry does
not compromise the future needs of society, the economy and environment.
Burford agrees entirely with the sentiments
expressed in Sustainable Distribution: A Strategy where
it states, "Efficient intermodal transfer facilities are
of critical importance to the success of shipping and waterways
services. The best UK ports have an excellent record of performance,
particularly bearing in mind the extensive state subsidies paid
by our European partners for port facilities, dredging and navigation
aids, which the European Commission has expressed concern about
in its recent Green Paper. In some cases there is scope for further
development as integrated distribution hubs, enhancing the basic
intermodal transfer activities with storage, processing and manufacturing
facilities on the same site". Needless to say this statement
almost mirror images Burford's approach to developments at Cabot
Park and proposed development for Trafford Interchange.
On 18 October 1999 the DETR issued a draft document
on Policy Planning Guidance 13Transport (PPG13).
Burford echoes the sentiments expressed in PPG13 relevant to water,
whereby local authorities are asked to consider opportunities
for new developments which are served by waterways and reference
to encouraging more freight to be carried by water. However, while
the Government is essentially committed to road and rail it would
be interesting to clarify as to if PPG13 could be interpreted
as devolving responsibility for water to the local authorities?
Britain is a highly urbanised society with a
high density of population and road traffic in the South-East,
Midlands and North-West. According to transport statistics England's
motorways and truck roads account for only 4 per cent of the national
road network, but carry one-third of all traffic and two-thirds
of all freight. If true, then this is not a satisfactory state
of affairs and risks putting too many eggs in one basket. Indeed
the situation has been confirmed in the mid-1990s with the release
of Department of Transport congestion "stress" maps.
These clearly indicated that at existing road traffic levels key
parts of the country's motorway and truck road network would in
forthcoming years be subjected to more road congestion and for
longer time periods. In reality this situation is already reflected
by the daily experience of millions of Britain's roads users.
This congestion message was reconfirmed in maps
published in the Government's recent Transport 2010: The Ten
Year Plan. According to official statistics there will be
a 30 per cent growth in traffic levels by 2010. In September 2000
the Highways Agency announced that the £1.2 billion expenditure
measure being introduced by the Government to improve travel time
on major roads may not be successful in cutting travel times.
The best scenario was that journey times on motorways and trunk
roads would be no longer than they were at present. A bleak prospect,
again drawing attention to the urgent need for Government guidance
and implementing action on alternative transport.
Burford recognise that air pollution is a global
and national concern and welcome moves at controlling CO2
emissions and measures aimed at energy conservation. The transport
sector accounts for about 23 per cent of total CO2
emissions, and within this road traffic is one of the fastest
growing sources. Transport also produces a number of other greenhouse
gases. In this regard we would like to focus attention to the
greater fuel economy of rail and water transport, both as a means
of conserving fuel and reducing air pollution as indicated by
the tables below.
CO2 emissions estimates for freight
|Transport mode||CO2 emissions
|Source: European Commission (CEC), DG XI
Energy use for freight transport Transport Mode
|Source: Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, 1994
In the Government's 1998 paper British Shipping: Chartering
a new course it was stated that according to estimates by
the World Bank and others, expansion of world trade is expected
to grow at the rate of 4 per cent per year over the next decade.
This figure will almost double current volumes by the year 2010.
Ports play a major role in the economy with over 95 per cent of
goods entering Britain coming via water. Burford believes action
needs to be implemented in terms of the following:
capital investment in ports and water-freight
related infrastructure; and
capital investment and encouragement in new concept
intermodal freight villages to provide improved operational efficient
and cost effective (and environmentally friendly) options for
the country's future logistics and distribution requirementsutilising
a mixture of all transport modes to their maximum potential.
Burford puts forward the argument that such actions will
assist and ensure the country can commercially compete and share
in the world-wide growth in trade.
Burford's stance in respect of waterborne transport have
been formulated against a two-fold background.
First, from the perspective of practical experience
gained in developing large scale multimodal freight develoments,
such as Cabot Park and the proposed Trafford Interchange.
Second, with reference to official transport and environmental
publications covering the past decade. Without exception these
official publications express concern about the role of transport
in relation to the wider environment issues; global warming, air
pollution, energy consumption and numerous other aspects. In all
cases the claim is made for better use being sought from environmentally
transport modes as part of the solution. We note that there is
little new in the most recent of these official publications,
such as Waterways for Tomorrow. The benefits and advantages
of water freight are well documented in previous publications.
The list of official publications which Burford has made
reference to include:
Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution,
Eighteenth Report, Transport and the Environment, 1994. The
Commission was particularly concerned about reducing the environmental
impact of road transport and advocated a modal switch. Recommendations
were made for rail and water (Chapter 10);
A New Deal For Transport: Better For Everyone,
1998, the Government's White Paper;
Sustainable Distribution: A Strategy, published
in 1999 and sets out a long-term strategy for domestic freight
Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution,
Twenty-second Report, EnergyThe Changing Climate, 2000.
This is a major report which is critical of the lack of progress
made in tackling fundamental issues which concern us all. Reference
is made in Chapter 6 to the Government achieving a reduction in
CO2 levels on the assumption (among other things) of
a large increase in rail freight and a significant transfer of
road freight to coastal shipping;
Waterways for Tomorrow, 2000. The document
recognises that Britain's larger river navigation and canals could
take more traffic; and
Transport 2010: The 10 Year Plan, 2000
which details financial expenditure over the next decade. The
Government states that the 10 Year Plan will deliver the scale
of resources required to put integrated transport into practice.
Burford welcomes the Government's policy to encourage a greater
take up of Freight Facilities Grants (FFGs) and also its intention
to extend the scheme to coastal and short sea shipping as outlined
in Waterways for Tomorrow. In general, there is some disappointment
in seeing so little in the document in terms of solid proposal
addressing the aspect of freight. This is strange in view of the
Government's stated policy measures aimed at curbing road congestion
levels, its commitment to reducing air pollution, improving energy
efficiency and encouraging alternative transport modes. Specifically,
there are a number of concerns we would like to address in relation
to existing Government transport policy documentation and the
aspect of inland waterways.
First, we feel that the 2010 Transport Plan and
Waterways for Tomorrow has not made adequate provision which
will seriously encourage industry to make greater utilisation
of inland waterways for the movement of freight in the foreseeable
future. There is a lack of specifics on a policy or financial
commitment to inland waterways freight contained in the 2010 document.
In the Waterways for Tomorrow document attention is mainly
focused on leisure activities, with little reference made to freight,
other than general statements, the calling for an inquiry and
the possibility of establishing a water freight study group. Of
course, Burford will willingly participate in these enterprises
and pass on knowledge or practical experience to the inquiry as
Second, the aspect of financial funding raises a major concern.
For example, the 2010 document reveals that the bulk of future
transport funding will be channelled into three areas: road, rail
and local transport. The breakdown of total transport investment
and expenditure financial over the next decade is as follows:
strategic roads£21.3 billion;
local transport£58.9 billion;
other transport£2.2 billion; and
The relevance of the 10 year Transport Plan figures is that
Other Transport includes seven elements; ports, shipping, road
safety, support for cleaner vehicles, aviation, strategic transport,
and transport security. There is no specific reference to what
funding is allocated to inland-waterways and more importantly
the freight element of inland waterways. This position is confused
again if reference is made to other investment and expenditure
plans detailed by the Government (July 2000) in its £180
billion 10 year investment plan to deliver an integrated transport
system and figure of £15 billion to be held in reserve. Again
no specific reference is made to inland waterways funding.
Third, the regional fact sheets contained in the 2010 document
indicate little vision or opportunity for commitment towards inland-water
freight. For example, the only reference for the North West region
is related to the Port of Liverpool Docks in terms of continuing
expansion of new terminals and maximising the possibilities for
moving freight by rail. No reference is made to the Manchester
Ship Canal and its potential for deep inland freight penetration,
its potential role as a modern logistics distribution hub and
resulting environmental and integrated transport benefits.
Turning to the South-West of the country, and as detailed
in the 2010 document, we also welcome the reference made to the
sustainable distribution of goods through the provision of up
to six new intermodal freight transfer stations in Devon, Cornwall
and Gloucestershire, Wiltshire Swindon and Avonmouth. However,
we would like to have seen specific reference to waterborne freight
in relation to Avonmouth Docks and the River Severn, which in
the wider scheme of things can provide true multimodal (rail,
road and water) freight transport. This, we believe, is integral
to the Government's vision for an integrated and sustainable transport.
Fourth, we welcome the setting up of multi-modal studies,
which reject the old approach of focusing on one dimensional solutions
and instead look at the contribution that all modes of transport
and traffic management might make. The Government says it will
take a comprehensive look at transport problems and offer solutions
in which all types of transport can play a part. We wish to express
a view on the South-East Manchester multi-modal study, which is
looking at the current and future transport problems in the area,
including the impact of the expansion of Manchester Airport and
taking account of the completion of the M60 Manchester motorway
box. According to the 2010 document this study has identified
a number of deep-rooted problems which include:
congestion on key radial and orbital routes;
poor quality public transport in certain areas;
pockets of deprivation and social exclusion; and
if current trends continue, unsustainable economic,
employment and development patterns.
Among a number of long term measures mentioned that could
be introduced by local authorities includes:
improved interchanges between different types
of transport for both passengers and freight.
The Manchester Ship Canal is in close proximity to this part
of South-East Manchester. Inter-linked with a road/rail interchange
freight development can assist ease and alleviate freight movements
in this area, and in a sustainable manner, in addition to bringing
other welcome benefits.
Burford, of course, acknowledges that inland waterways can
only provide capacity to meet a small proportion of Britain's
total freight requirements. Nonetheless, we believe there is scope
to significantly increase this proportion, especially in view
of the recent road fuel crisis. The expectation is to generate
synergy and other untapped benefits between the different transport
modes. There is an added urgency. The recent fuel crisis has made
industry more conscious of the over dependence on road transport.
Furthermore, how precarious the logistics supply chain can become,
and in such a short space of time, when fuel supplies are threatened.
In the light of the fuel crisis we believe that the logistics
industry is already taking a wider and long term view of the options
provided by rail and water. Indeed, the rational for modal switch
has become clearer. As a result there is an on-going culture change
taking place within industry on the future of freight movement.
This is due to the ever growing fuel prices, worsening road congestion,
driver shortages and other factors. If anything, the fuel crisis
has jolted industry into seriously considering alternative and
more sustainable transport modes. Changes in attitude and mind-set
may create conditions which allow waterways to develop their full
potential, thereby playing a greater role in Britain's modern
logistics industry. We believe the Government can assist in this
process by positive measures which include:
highlighting even more the need for sustainable
freight transport in the future and in particular a commitment
by Government to water freight which is less minimal;
giving a higher priority to waterborne transport,
specifically devoting more attention to the development and forward
planning for water freight in a similar fashion to the highly
detailed commitments and plans made for rail and road, thereby
strongly indicating Government support for water is not diminishing;
making the Freight Facilities Grants easier to
access, more flexible and wider in scope to encourage greater
modal switch; and
encouraging private/public partnerships in inland
waterways, relevant to freight, in a similar manner as other transport
Burford wish to acknowledge the assistance given by Frank
Worsford from the University of Westminster and Tom McNamara from
the Maritime Research Centre at Southampton Institute in the preparation
of this Memorandum. Finally, Burford would like to thank the House
of Commons Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee
for the opportunity to present evidence on this important subject.
Chief Executive, Burford Group Plc
25 September 2000