Flexible guidance best to cut air emissions

air quality guidance The Port Air Quality Strategies guidance has been welcomed for its flexible approach. Image: Department for Transport, UK government
Industry Database

The non-prescriptive approach of the UK government's Port Air Quality Strategies guidance document will benefit ports, the British Ports Association (BPA) has said.

Following the publication of the guidance, alongside the Clean Maritime Plan, Mark Simmonds, head of policy & external affairs at the BPA, said the plan allowed ports to be flexible in their approach to tackling air emissions.

"We welcome the publication of the air quality guidance and the latitude that it affords UK ports. We have consistently said that air quality policies must take account of the vastly different circumstances of different UK ports," he said.

Co-developed

The BPA has worked closely with the Department for Transport to develop the guidance and acknowledges that the guidance sets tight deadlines, while putting together a plan and managing the financing required will be a challenge for smaller ports.

"We hope the collaborative approach that DfT have taken so far continues and is deepened where possible. A departure from this would not benefit industry or help improve air quality so we hope there will be a level of understanding as industry gets to grips with what is expected," he said.

The BPA will be organising workshops with ports to consider what the guidance means for ports and share good practice. The first of these will take place on 1 August.

"This should allow ports to take broadly similar approach within the guidance," said Mr Simmonds.

Guidance approach welcomed

Tim Morris, CEO of UK Major Ports Group, said that the guidance is part of a development process already well in motion for major ports so a "guidance approach that takes more of a principles than prescription-based approach is both appropriate and welcome".

He stated that it is important for the guidance to recognise that port operators have different levels of influence on port activities depending on the ownership and operations specific to individual ports.

He added: "Looking forward what ports want to see is an approach to reviewing the submitted plans by Government that is focused on outcomes rather than process. Ports are committed to further air quality improvements. But simply put, we want to be focusing our efforts on making positive change rather than filling in theoretical forms and databases.”

Speaking about improvements that can be made to the guidance, he stated: "One area we’d like to have seen more on is the integration of Air Quality improvement approaches with other policy areas.”

He stated that the government has reduced the incentives for taking freight off the roads which is at odds with the clear potential for modal shift to improve air quality. He said: "This needs to be reversed if the Government is serious about air quality improvement.”

Ports are being asked to produce their plans by June 2020.

Ports are being asked to submit a document outlining the steps they will take to prepare their final strategy by 31 December 2019. The final strategy should be submitted by 11 July 2020.

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