Nine out of 10 respondents to a questionnaire put to the public during the Mersey Ports Master Plan consultation have come out in broad support of the strategy.
When asked to give their opinion of the statement "In overall terms the Mersey Ports Master Plan represents an exciting and welcome growth strategy for the next 20 years", 89% replied “yes”, with only 6% disagreeing, and 5% having no opinion.
During the consultation period, Peel Ports Mersey’s Managing Director Gary Hodgson and Head of Port Planning Warren Marshall attended nine local events in towns and communities adjacent to the Port of Liverpool and the Ship Canal, where they answered questions from over 500 people.
These events took place in Liverpool, Widnes, Crosby, Warrington, Wallasey, Ellesmere Port, Eastham, Salford Quays and Bootle.
In addition they took part in eight local authority briefings, met 11 local MPs and presented to eleven special interest groups.
Positive feedback was also received from local businesses and other key stakeholders on issues such as increased employment, regeneration and the boost to local economy.
Although the reaction has been highly positive, Peel Ports has identified six main issues as a result of the 13-week public consultation that took place following the publication of the draft Mersey Ports Master Plan at the beginning of June.
The draft Master Plan, a 20-year vision for growth and future developments, details Peel Ports Mersey’s growth strategy and predicted volume forecasts up to 2030 - which would see a 70% growth in tonnage handled and create up to 8000 jobs.
The consultation closed on September 5, and 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 the following main issues and areas of concern:
- Planned development of Seaforth Nature Reserve.
- Additional port traffic upon the local highway network.
- Mitigating environmental impacts upon nearby residential areas.
- Planned port expansion near Eastham Village.
- Increased opening of the swing bridges on the Manchester Ship Canal at Warrington.
- Opportunity for local jobs, training and skills, and procurement.
Peel Ports is committed to looking into these six topics in detail, and to that end has formed working groups of senior staff to focus on each area, with the aim of formulating action plans which will inform the publication of a revised Master Plan in 2012.
Peel Ports Managing Director Gary Hodgson said: “We are 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. Following the consultation we have identified areas of concern, and we will now consider these in more detail. 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.”