This morning the Transport Select Committee visited The Manchester Ship Canal and Mersey Ports, as part of our enquiry into the proposal for a National Policy Statement on ports. Ports in the north of England are currently under-utilised, while ports in the South East have become more congested in recent years (although all ports have been hit by the recession). At the same time around 60% of goods coming into South East ports head north of Birmingham, clogging up the motorways and churning out lots of unnecessary CO2.
I would like to see a national policy statement that encourages growth of ports in the north, rather than simply allowing the market to decide to increase capacity and congestion in the South East.
During the visit to Peel, we were taken along the Manchester Ship Canal to see the potential for growth of water freight along the canal and at the Mersey Coast. At the moment the Ship Canal is only using 5% of its capacity, and the potential for increasing freight movement via the canal is enormous, and the environment benefits would be huge.