Peel Ports has given an update on consultation to overcome challenges to parts of its 20-year plan for developing the cargo network through the Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal.
The port company, owned jointly by Peel Group and German property fund RREEF, forecasts 70% growth in tonnage handled on the Mersey and creation of up to 8,000 jobs by 2030.
A public consultation held last year into the Mersey Ports Master Plan showed widespread support but identified specific problem areas. These included Seaforth Nature Reserve, the environment, port traffic and congestion, Eastham Village, the Warrington swing bridges, and jobs, training and skills and procurement.
Peel Ports set up working groups led by senior staff to look into each topic. These groups have now published an Interim Consultation Report, in which Peel Ports says it has agreed the following:
Seaforth Nature Reserve
- Need to meet requirements of Habitats Directive in terms of a case of "overriding public interest" to build on reserve and demonstrating lack of alternative solutions
- Identify and evaluate the suitability and delivery of compensatory habitat
- Work with local communities to more fully understand aspirations for local green assets and explore opportunities for investment
- Progress and publicise a protocol for handling port-related complaints
- Work jointly with Environmental Health and Port Health authorities, and Environment Agency in investigation and remedying of port-related incidents and complaints
- Undertake environmental monitoring upon port estate, particularly around noise and dust emissions
Port Traffic & Congestion
- Explore ways to reduce reliance upon HGV movements associated with existing activities
- Encourage development of multi-modal freight solutions in partnership with existing port operators and new development opportunities
- Continue to work with regional stakeholders to lobby Government for funding for surface access transport improvements
- Commit to full pre-application with stakeholders in respect of Port Wirral project
- Assess suitability of port-related projects upon land adjacent to QEII Dock and discuss appropriate mitigation measures
- Undertake appraisal of port-related HGV activity in area and evaluate need for appropriate mitigation
Warrington Swing Bridges
- Complete a Memorandum of Understanding with Warrington Borough Council
- Evaluate and instigate measures around better vessel planning and scheduling of shipping movements
- Work with Council to develop prior warning notification systems and dissemination of information locally
Jobs, Training & Procurement
- Establish a protocol in conjunction with local authorities for targeted recruitment to enable local people to better access port jobs
- Work with local schools, colleges and universities to highlight opportunities within ports sector and develop training in necessary skills
- Assess current level of local supplier utilisation and examine ways in which local companies can benefit from future growth plans
Warren Marshall, Peel Ports Group head of planning, said: "We continue to be encouraged by the level of interest in the Master Plan and by the overall support to our strategy from both our partners and from the general public, but we are taking nothing for granted.
"Now, as promised following the consultation, we have considered the six areas of concern in more detail. These Action Plans will be further developed and will inform the publication of a revised Master Plan in due course later this year.
"We are fully committed to continuing to work in partnership with both public agencies and organisations and the people who live in the communities where we operate to ensure maximum gain for the North West Region from our growth and development strategy – which we believe will be substantial."
A revised masterplan is due to be published later in 2012.
- Link to Mersey Ports Master Plan documents http://www.shipcanal.co.uk/masterplan/