With the Felixstowe crisis and Brexit uncertainty dominating the headlines in current industry news, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s all doom and gloom in the UK right now when it comes to shipping. This month’s Solent focus shows that this isn’t the case, with waves being made in the local industry.
September kicked off with some great news for UK ocean freight in particular, and has seen Southampton-based company, Red Funnel, confirm that their plans for a £10 million freight ferry are on schedule for a Spring 2019 launch. The ferry company’s CEO, Fran Collins, congratulated the work of Cammell Laird who are managing the build of this new liner, and reinforced Red Funnel’s decision to support the UK manufacturing industry.
Build projects like that from Red Funnel are a welcome addition to both UK manufacturing and the UK shipping industries. Ocean freight is worth an estimated $183.3bn USD globally, after a dip in trade between 2012-2016, and is soon expected to return to its previous heights. Sea freight is also one of the lowest polluters when it comes to transport, so it’s a win-win in terms of both cost and environmental impact, especially considering the European Commission & UK Government’s emission targets for 2025.
Or so you’d think.
Back on solid ground, the FTA reported in its 2018 logistics report that many areas of the country are missing target levels for nitrogen dioxide pollution by as much as 100%. Whilst domestic cars are of course the bulk of this, HDVs are a heavy contributor. The Southampton area comes in at the UK’s 6th highest for predicted NO2 levels throughout 2018, according to Defra’s data.
Despite this damning prediction, proposals for a ‘Clean Air Zone’ (CAZ) in the region have been rejected this month by haulage companies and the Isle of Wight council alike. Southampton City Council have called for the CAZ to be introduced by 2019, with fines to be introduced for those who flout new regulations.
During an open Q&A between Southampton City Council members and 36 local businesses, Isle of Wight Councillor Dave Steward said, “The IW Council is objecting to the proposed zone as there has been no impact assessment for the Island and we continue to have no say over how it will work, even though it will be detrimental to our economy.
“Island residents and businesses are reliant on the transportation of goods and undertaking of services by bus, coach, private hire vehicles and particularly heavy goods vehicles through Southampton – many of which are diesel powered.”
Fears are that the currently proposed £100 fines are set to increase shipping costs if introduced as planned. Currently over 100 HGVs use the Southampton/East Cowes Red Funnel route each day, which would be part of the CAZ.
However, it’s anything but the end of the world. In their own policy, APB, who are Southampton’s port operator, have an ‘Air Quality Strategy’ in order to accelerate improvements in air quality around local ports in the area.
In the APB’s published report ‘Cleaner Air for Southampton’, they stated:
“As a major employer and a responsible neighbour, we wanted to present our plans early as we seek to play a leading role in improving emissions in the city.”
It’s not just official regulations which are causing the shake-up. With consumer attitudes gearing towards the ‘green’, it makes sense that there is a focus on keeping up with the trend. Ultimately, any solid focus on reducing emissions should reduce long-term costs by default, as well as securing greater trust from clients. As I mention in our report on digitalisation within the industry [e-Harmony: Fixing the broken supply chain with tech], the shortage of truck drivers is thought to be partly blamed on the fluctuating price of oil (around 35% of road freight costs, a much lower 17% within water freight), due to the effect this is having on shipping costs.
APB Southampton have already trialled hybrid patrol vessels, introduced electric vehicles to their fleets, and reduced energy consumption by 20% in the last decade, all of which are making huge improvements for the local economy and air quality. Watch this space for further innovation as the CAZ comes into effect.
Sarah O’Connell, Senior Editor, FORWARDER magazine
- Trade which passes through the Solent area is worth £77.5billion
- An estimated 27.5% of the working population in Southampton are employed in the maritime industry
- Cowes harbour handles 600,000 of cargo annually
- Portsmouth International pot is the second-busiest cross-channel port.