Commons Gate

The proposal for a National Policy Statement on Ports (HC 217-iii)

Transport Committee 27 Jan 2010

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Evidence given by:
2.45 Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC)
Sir Michael Pitt, Chair, Dr Ian Gambles, Director of Strategy and Robert Upton CBE, Deputy Chair
3.30 Department for Transport
Paul Clark MP, Parliamentary under Secretary of State, Richard Bennett, Head of Ports Division, and Philip Grindrod, Team Leader, Ports Policy Review : Uploaded on 29 January 2010

Q348 Mr. David Clelland: Most of the points I wanted to raise have been covered, but I am just disappointed that the Labour Minister seems to be married to the market process when we have an opportunity here to aspire to the regional policies of the Labour Government and Labour Party over many years by using a planning and national policy process to ensure that we develop the regions as opposed to allowing the market to dictate where the areas are to be developed. Obviously the shipping companies will want to go where it is easiest and most convenient for them, and that then puts a huge strain on the infrastructure of that area. The South is becoming overpopulated and over-congested, uncomfortable for the people who live here and costly for the people who live here, whereas at the other end of the country, where we have excellent facilities, we are not able to develop them because the market has decided they will not be developed. Surely there must be a role for government in ensuring that that imbalance is corrected.

Paul Clark: That is part and parcel of the regional development agencies, the regional economic strategies.

Q349 Mr. David Clelland: Yes, but this policy seems to be fitting in with that.

Paul Clark: Absolutely. We have said in here that that should clearly be taken into account. It is a discussion I have had with the IPC and so on and I believe the tools and mechanism are there for them to be able to do that. But, indeed, I have already indicated that there has been expansion. There have been improvements, for example, at Teesport and Liverpool. Indeed, one of the discussions that I had only last night was exactly around the use of port facilities to support what is a new, emerging, and larger scale development in terms of energy provision and so on.

Q350 Mr. David Clelland: We are not getting anywhere near the potential of these areas, Minister, are we? Teesport, the Port of Tyne, Liverpool. The potential there for development, for improvement, for more transport, for more shipping traffic is tremendous, but we are not encouraging it. We are getting the crumbs that might fall off the table, as it were.

Paul Clark: I think it would be unfair to say crumbs ----

Q351 Mr. David Clelland: In comparison. Relatively speaking.

Paul Clark: -- in terms of in the round and in terms of the provisions and so on that are made. I do not believe that by having a directed, location-specific policy we would achieve what both he and I and clearly other Members of the Committee would want to see. I do not believe that we would necessarily be able to deliver it, that that would actually be delivered. I do believe that we need to look at how we best make use of facilities around the country by ensuring that we have a policy that does state very clearly what the criteria are, which is laid out in this NPS, so that everyone is clear about what those options are, what those criteria are.

Q352 Chairman: We are looking forward to seeing how you resolve that. You have indicated that it is an area you are going to look at.

Paul Clark: We will.

This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee. Neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.

The full transcript may be read here.

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