Government Infrastructure Group seeks insights from Port of Liverpool

Peel Ports Group

L-R: James Richardson; Chief Economist NIC, Adam Cooper; Policy and Engagement Director NIC, Gary Hodgson; COO Peel Ports, Lord Adonis, Lord Heseltine, Warren Marshall; Group Planning Director Peel Ports

A delegation from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), led by its chairman Lord Adonis, has made a fact-finding visit to the Port of Liverpool to see how developments there are helping to transform the Northern economy. 

Accompanied by fellow commissioner Lord Heseltine and expert advisers from the NIC, he was given a tour of facilities at the port, including the new £400m container terminal, Liverpool2, which was opened at the beginning of November by the Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox.

Lord Adonis also received a briefing from Peel Ports Group’s Chief Operating Officer Gary Hodgson on the company’s overall investment programme, which is looking to significantly change the movement of goods in the UK logistics sector by shifting freight from road and rail to sea.

Lord Adonis said: “The quality of our infrastructure affects all of our daily lives from our morning journey into work to staying in touch with friends and family, and keeping our homes safe and warm. The National Infrastructure Commission was established to transform the way we plan and deliver the systems and networks that keep our country going. We want to reduce the daily frustrations poor infrastructure can cause and help develop the world-class projects this country needs to compete.

“Developing a serious and strategic long-term approach will help reduce unnecessary delay, costs and congestion. We know that the Liverpool2 container terminal and Peel Ports Group’s other investments are aimed at securing exactly those same benefits for the UK’s supply chain, so it made a lot of sense for us to see what we can learn from this private sector investment as we consider our recommendations for government.”

In March 2016 the Commission published a report on transport in the North, with its main finding being that the area needs immediate and very significant investment now and a plan for longer term transformation to reduce journey times, increase capacity and improve reliability.

As well as kick-starting HS3 and integrating it with HS2, and planning for the redevelopment of the North’s gateway stations, the report advised bringing forward investment in capacity on the M62, the North’s most important east-west link, alongside funding to identify and assess proposals for tackling a range of other strategic challenges.

Gary Hodgson, Chief Operating Officer of Peel Ports Group, said: “We were delighted to host Lord Adonis, Lord Heseltine and their Commission colleagues for a tour of the new facilities at the Port of Liverpool, including our upgraded steel terminal, the biomass terminal and of course Liverpool2. We completely agree with the Commission’s existing views that major improvements are needed in Northern road and rail infrastructure, especially as these are essential for maximising the benefits from our private sector investment.

“As active supporters of the Northern Powerhouse initiative, and the hosts of the inaugural partners meeting only last week, we are very pleased to offer whatever insight we can into planning transformational infrastructure projects.”

The National Infrastructure Commission’s role is to influence long-term strategic decision-making for building effective and efficient infrastructure and will be established as a permanent executive agency from January.

It will look at the UK’s future needs for nationally significant infrastructure, with the aim of maintaining the UK’s competitiveness amongst the G20 nations and provide greater certainty for investors by taking a long term approach to the major investment decisions facing the country.

Earlier this year, Lord Heseltine, who is also a government local growth adviser and chair of the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission, welcomed the potential of the Port of Sheerness to contribute further to economic development in the area.

He made the comments during a visit to Peel Ports Group’s facilities on the River Medway, where the company plans to reclaim up to 125 hectares for expansion, mixed use developments and a new marina.

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