Liverpool: The south of the UK is increasingly congested giving ports further north a greater chance to catch more business, says the head of Peel Ports Group in today’s Maritime CEO profile.
Mark Whitworth is the ceo of the ports company which controls seven ports in the UK and Ireland including its flagship facility in Liverpool.
Whitworth was appointed ceo in 2010. He previously held the same position at Peel Airports.
With competition among European ports notoriously tough Peel Ports has spent big in Liverpool in particular to attract more liner calls.
“Port operators must be willing to invest ahead of time. This involves risk but also opportunity,” says Whitworth. The group’s new £300m container terminal Liverpool2 has been designed not only to handle vessels of a size that have never called at Liverpool before, but also designed to handle vessels larger than those in existence today. The terminal has committed to 24-wide STS cranes, a 16.5m deep berth pocket and a capability to handle vessels over 400m LOA and up to 60m beam.
“Future-proofing means an ability to dredge even deeper berth pockets and deploy larger cranes,” says Whitworth, adding: “Our yard design and IT systems will also be capable of handling hyper-peaking of containers in terminals – a critical issue even today.”
“Our main proposition,” Whitowrth says, “focuses on an efficient route to market, both for imported or exported goods.”
With an increasingly congested transport infrastructure in southern UK, Whitworth claims there are significant savings in time and cost by routing cargo through Liverpool in order to access UK destinations north of Birmingham.
Ports in Europe are leading the way in encouraging green shipping, and Liverpool is among the pioneers.
First, a wide range of cargoes are handled along the Manchester Ship Canal. Peel Ports is continuing to invest in facilities along the canal which he says is the company’s “green highway”. This enables export product to be transferred directly to water without touching road and rail. Likewise import containers can be transhipped along the canal into the heart of the northwest reducing the road or rail miles required for containers to reach their final destination. Secondly, choosing Liverpool over a southern UK port, provides an immediate CO2 saving on average journeys.
“Both these factors underpin our ‘Green Shift’ initiative whose premise is that shipping lines deciding to switch their port of call from the south to Liverpool will automatically be providing a significant environmental benefit to the transport chain in the UK,” Whitworth says.
Peel Ports is part of the Peel Group, a British infrastructure, real estate and investment company.