News from our Members and Partners

11 February 2020

British Ports Association Welcomes Freeports Consultation; Calls for Maximum Ambition in Scope and Scale

The British Ports Association has welcomed the publication of a new consultation on the introduction of free ports, which have the potential to transform coastal communities and unleash ‘port-centric’ growth.

The BPA is part of the Government’s Freeports Advisory Panel which is advising on options for their introduction in the UK. Last year the Association published a report outlining a bold and ambitious set of proposals in A Licence to Operate: ‘Enterprise, Development and Free Trade Zones’.

This calls for freeport status to include a package of measures to support growth in coastal communities around development, consenting and enterprise. This report was written in collaboration with a number of ports and airport operators.

The BPA is now calling for Ministers to maximise their ambition and remove the cap on potential number of freeports and include a much broader package of measures that would benefit a wide range of different UK ports.

The UK has 125 cargo-handling ports. Freeport status will benefit ports differently depending on their current traffic/business profile and specialisation. Some will naturally be keener than others but there will be more than 10 of these that will want to benefit and Government should not place an arbitrary cap on this ambition.

Commenting on the consultation, Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive of the British Ports Association, said:

"Freeports are a transformational opportunity for some UK ports that could unleash growth and development in some of the UK’s most deprived coastal areas. We will be making the case for a package of maximum ambition in both scope and scale. Ports handle 95% of the UK’s trade and we will be putting forward a bold set of measures that support a variety of models to fit different ports and the industries that rely on them".

Freeports will not solve issues around new ‘frictions’ that will be introduced at certain gateway ports at the end of the Brexit transition period. The BPA will continue to call for a strong trade agreement with the EU that priorities minimising the erection of new non-tariff trade barriers.



Created in 1992, the British Ports Association represents the interests of its 100 full members (covering in excess of 350 ports and harbour facilities and terminals of all sizes across the UK), and numerous associate members, to the UK and devolved Governments, the EU and national and international bodies.