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Ports policy leaves road and rail plans on the dockside

Local authorities this week accused the government of failing to link port development with road and rail plans by producing separate planning policy statements at different times.

A draft national policy statement (NPS) for ports, produced by the Department for Transport, is currently out for consultation.

It outlines planning policy for schemes over 500,000 TEU (twenty foot equivalent units) over the next 20 years and calls for port development to support offshore renewable energy and cater for long-term import and export forecasts.

Janet Goodland says the rail network has been neglected by the draft national policy statement

“We are not satisfied with the way that it is being introduced almost in absence from the other national planning strategies which need to take place alongside it,” said Local Government Association deputy chair Richard Kemp.

The comments were made at a transport select committee hearing on the ports NPS last week.

“Having a port strategy without particularly a road and rail strategy to complement it does not enable you to take full advantage of the picture of what the national port strategy might look like,” he said.

A draft NPS for road and rail entitled National Networks, is expected to be published in March, by which time the ports consultation will have ended.

Network Rail director of development projects Janet Goodland said more account should be taken of changes to the rail network in the ports NPS.

“Having a port strategy without particularly a road and rail strategy to complement it does not enable you to take full advantage of the picture.”

Richard Kemp

“There is not enough in the draft NPS about the established rail planning systems which are available and should be used in order to judge whether or not a port’s transport systems will be adequate. We would like to see those referred to in the NPS and that whole system consolidated together,” she said.

Criticism was also levelled at the growth forecast figures used in the NPS. These were produced in 2005 and reviewed in 2007 and forecast growth to 2030.

“It seems odd in the middle of a very severe downturn that these forecasts are still relied upon with the view that they may not be reached in 2030. But, sooner or later, they may well get there,” said James Trimmer, of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

“I would have thought that they need to be considered again and to be updated in order to provide the evidence base,” he added.

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