Freight’s northern way offers Humber's ports potential

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 22 Sep 2017

A MAJOR push to rebalance freight entry to the UK could pave the way for further ports prosperity on the Humber.

Work is underway to understand volumes and patterns of cargo, with major industrial support and university backing. 

Stephen Weaver, head of commercial strategy and new business development at P&O Ferries, is heading up a collaborative industry and academic project team, with support from some of the biggest names in business. 

Introducing LHOFT – Liverpool – Humber Optimisation of Freight Transport – at the Humber Maritime Showcase as part of London International Shipping Week, Mr Weaver said: “50 per cent of manufacturing is in the north; 50 per cent of the population is in the north and 50 per cent of warehousing is in the north, yet 90 per cent of container ro-ro and 75 per cent of all container traffic goes through southern ports.

“It is the safe option, with high frequency short crossings, yet we have excellent links with Zeebrugge and Rotterdam. That routing is inevitably introducing more cost to logistics providers. To make that change, and understand what we have to do to, to model for efficient routing, requires a significant shift to develop and enhance the flow of transport. 

“We would like to see that traffic moving back to the north. We see potential for new development, new maritime routes, new inter-modal operations, to reduce logistics costs, reduce congestion and drive haulage distances down.” 

Launched last month, Mr Weaver is joined by representatives from Stena in the maritime sector, a major user of Humber Sea Terminal at North Killingholme, with ABP and Peel Ports, DB Cargo and GB Rail also part of the team.

Manufacturers Kraft Heinz, Nestle, Unilever and Unipart are part of it, supported by consultancy and technical providers Zip About, Oxford Rail, PRB Associates and SMSR. 

Lancaster University provides further academic support.

“The east coast, and the Humber particularly, is absolutely critical for support,” Mr Weaver added. 

Prof Amar Ramudhin, director of the Logistics Institute at the University of Hull, said: “This is one of the most exciting projects, bringing together industry and academia. We have competing businesses, people who never speak about each others’ businesses, in the same room for the first time, and they are giving us trade forecasts for the next five years.

Based on that we will see what type of volume we have and what type of logistics services we can provide.

“We need to pull demand together to enable these services. We need to be able to take the risk and break the paradigm.

“It is fantastic we are doing this on the Humber. We have two magnificent port complexes on the east and west coast.” 

High praise for Humber from top maritime chief

DELEGATION: Lord Prescott, second right, with from left, Sam Whitaker, of Grimsby Institute; Mark O’Reilly, Team Humber Marine Alliance; David Dingle CBE, Prof Amar Ramudhin, director of the Logistics Institute at the University of Hull, Simon Bird and Stephen Weaver, head of commercial strategy and new business development at P&O Ferries.

THE chairman of Britain’s leading port body, Maritime UK, has endorsed the Humber’s strong ambition for further growth.

David Dingle CBE was guest of honour at the Humber Maritime Showcase held as part of London International Shipping Week, last week. 

He said: “It was a really fantastic showcase of everything the region has to offer in the maritime sector.

“I have been watching what is going on, everything from a wet bank holiday Monday sat on holiday in France watching coverage of City of Culture celebrations going on, to thinking about the University of Hull, about the tremendous academic record it has got. It needs to be heard about more. We are now hearing about Grimsby Institute (through Modal) doing this wonderful stuff with simulators. It is great to see what is going on there. 

“There is so much energy, so much activity, coming out of one region that the whole of the country and the world needs to know about. It is really, really impressive. I am delighted to offer support and recognise contribution to UK maritime economy. Humber ports are the busiest by tonnage and the fourth busiest in Europe with 86 million tonnes of cargo and 17.5 per cent of Britain’s maritime trade – that’s more than any other ports complex in the UK.  

“A total of 240 maritime companies are active in the area. It is remarkable. We need to bring that to everyone’s attention; the UK Government, the business partners that we come across from outside the country, we want to help that, and grow these numbers even more.

“It is not only emerging as a highly successful area and going on to greater success, it is part of a national success story.”

As reported, Lord Prescott used the event to call for the Government to make the Humber a “place for growth” under the Industrial Strategy, while ABP port director told how the mega port was “brimming with potential” to build on the trade it already handles across Grimsby, Immingham, Hull and Goole.

Mr Dingle, who is chairman of Carnival UK, having previously held the position of chief executive with full operating responsibility for the UK-based brands P&O Cruises and Cunard, is approaching 40 years in the industry.

He joined P&O’s Passenger Division in 1978, as is a director and past president of the UK Chamber of Shipping, and a board member of the European Community Shipowners Association.

Mr Dingle told a strong delegation in The Willis Building in The City: “The Humber had its fair share of unemployment and economic challenges and is now undergoing this wonderful transformation and taking centre stage in this green revolution with the wind farm industry. You are playing a central part in the energy revolution that is so essential to the future of our country. 

“Maritime clusters are powerful. They have the ability to drive significant growth, bring together industry, academia, local government. Clusters are capable of moving fast, they can get together more easily and deliver purposefully. I see it now in the Humber and I am seeing it in clusters elsewhere.

“We are really excited to see Team Humber Marine Alliance getting so close to Maritime UK to become part of the development offer. You and the Mersey are the leaders, you see how close we are to so much of this, to the industry and manufacturing, and see how that corridor between Liverpool and the Humber can work, and how valuable that is.  The clusters give enormous power to this country because they form a very, very strong regional network and that holds this country together.

“Engagement in Government’s Industrial Strategy is very important. It is absolutely vital to grow manufacturing and international trade and shipping and ports sectors are right in the middle of turning that into a success. 

“We need to balance out anything we may lose out of Brexit with bigger opportunities elsewhere.

“The Humber has opportunities, is already playing a significant part in a world-leading British maritime proposition.”

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