The ICE maritime board is working with the UK Environment Agency to address public perception surrounding proposed port developments.
'There's a lack of appreciation of ports because most people don't need to use them any more. [Developments] then just become a focus for those who don't like change, ' said board chairman Greg Haigh.
He added that the UK lacked a robust port strategy, since port developments were only put forward by private companies based on demand.
But he welcomed news last month that the government was 'minded to approve' proposals for the London Gateway port on the site of the former Shell Haven oil refinery on the river Thames.
He said, 'There's undoubtedly a problem with container port capacity in the UK. The fact that the government is moving towards making a decision gives the industry an opportunity to address the shortfall.' The Thames Gateway decision follows refusal of permission to build a new container terminal at Dibden Bay, Southampton, last year on environmental and transport grounds.
UK port capacity is so constrained that container ships are offloading at ports in mainland Europe.
'This inevitably puts up the cost for the goods, ' said Haigh.
But the London Gateway port will only get the go ahead if developer P&O pays for road improvements to reduce congestion caused by port traffic.
Haigh said that it was fundamental to consider transport links and environmental impact ahead of any proposed port development.