Peel Ports today identified a programme of actions to tackle the main areas of concern raised in the Mersey Ports Master Plan consultation which took place between June and September 2011.
Nine out of 10 respondents to a questionnaire put to the public during the Master Plan consultation came out in broad support of the strategy – the 20-year vision for growth and future developments at the Port of Liverpool and on the Manchester Ship Canal, which would see a 70% growth in tonnage handled and create up to 8000 jobs.
However an initial assessment of the 292 responses which were received – made up of 150 from identified stakeholders and 142 from members of the public – identified issues regarding Seaforth Nature Reserve, the environment, port traffic & congestion, Eastham Village, the Warrington swing bridges, and jobs, training & skills and procurement.
Peel Ports immediately committed to looking into these six topics in detail, and to forming working groups of senior staff to focus on each area, with the aim of formulating action plans.
These groups have been working over recent months and now, in a newly-published Interim Consultation Report, Peel Ports has identified the following:
Seaforth Nature Reserve:
- Need to meet the requirements of The Habitats Directive in terms of a case of "overriding public interest" and demonstrating the lack of alternative solutions.
- Identify and evaluate the suitability and delivery of compensatory habitat.
- Work with local communities to more fully understand their aspirations for local green assets and explore opportunities for investment.
- Progress and publicise a protocol for the handling of port-related complaints.
- Work jointly with Environmental Health and Port Health authorities, and the Environment Agency in the investigation and remedying of port-related incidents and complaints.
- Undertake environmental monitoring upon the port estate, particularly around noise and dust emissions.
Port Traffic & Congestion
- Explore ways in which we can reduce the reliance upon HGV movements associated with our existing activities.
- Encourage the development of “multi-modal” freight solutions in partnership with existing port operators and as part of 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 the Port Wirral project.
- Assess the suitability of port-related projects upon land adjacent to QEII Dock and discuss any appropriate mitigation measures.
- Undertake an appraisal of current port-related HGV activity in the area and will evaluate the need for appropriate mitigation measures.
Warrington Swing Bridges:
- Complete a Memorandum of Understanding with Warrington Borough Council.
- Evaluate and instigate measures around better vessel planning and the scheduling of shipping movements.
- Work with the Council to develop prior warning notification systems and the 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 the opportunities within the ports sector and in order to develop training in the necessary skills.
- Assess the current level of local supplier utilisation and examine ways in which local companies can benefit from the future growth plans.
Peel Ports Group Head of Planning Warren Marshall 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."