Lord Prescott: Humber the 'ideal place for growth' in Government's Industrial Strategy
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 12 Sep 2017
LORD Prescott has called for the Humber to be made a 'place for growth' in the Government’s Industrial Strategy, describing it as the ‘ideal’ choice.
The passionate advocate for the region used a special showcase event as part of London International Shipping Week to flag up the role the estuary could play.
Backed up by with statistics and case studies by the container load, the former Deputy Prime Minister said: “We must concentrate on the Humber. Government has delivered its Industrial Strategy, and I am really rather pleased we are talking strategy. That means what we can see the Humber as a separate entity. It is already developing as an Energy Estuary, that’s quite an important development. We also have the traditional role in trade and fishing, and it is very important, hugely significant, to convince the Government, and make sure we contribute to the studies underway, about how we make the Humber one of the places of growth. The Government wants to identify places of growth, the Humber is the ideal one.
“Wind power has brought a fundamental change to the character of the Humber. It is an energy area, and that should help choose the Humber as a place of growth. Energy opens up the wider low carbon agenda. The changes required are going to need a great deal more power. That means wind power - now much cheaper than nuclear. With this Energy Estuary we need to be continuing, building low carbon industry development in the supply chain, we have to continue our plans to develop.”
Underlining battery storage and other emerging technologies, he focused on the South Bank’s land potential too. “The reason why we built the Humber Bridge was to unite the only estuary in Britain that wasn’t developed on both banks of the river. The connections and investments in the future on the South Bank mean the Humber is growing with greater potential.
“The local authorities of Lincolnshire and Yorkshire have come together on one basis, to develop the Humber, whatever the agreement on northern devolution. They have complete unity of purpose.”
More than 100 delegates attended the event in the heart of the City of London. Hosted by Team Humber Marine Alliance, Maritime UK chairman David Dingle CBE was a key guest.
Humber director for Associated British Ports, Simon Bird, outlined the four locations in his “mega port”. He said: “We believe the Humber offers more opportunities. It is the best kept secret of the economy and the potential key for unlocking future growth of the UK as a whole.
“We have very exciting times ahead and it is important to remember we have a genuine economic powerhouse on the Humber.
“The size and scale of the four ports combined is one vast mega port, brimming with potential for even more growth.”
He described it as ‘a gateway for trade in and out of the north of England, the Midlands and beyond,’ flagging up the fact it handles 86 million tonnes of cargo, 16 per cent of UK maritime trade, with Immingham alone taking 47 million tonnes last year. There are 100 services to Europe a week, and 40,000 shipping movements annually. A total of 840,000 vehicles were handled in 2016, with Grimsby responsible for 500,000.
And enthused by an 18 per cent growth in container volume, which has prompted a £50 million investment across Immingham and Hull, Mr Bird added: “With such a diverse range of operations, we are a very useful barometer of the strength of the economy. With the exception of coal (with switches in energy policy driving down demand) we are seeing growth across all sectors.
“There is a wealth of untapped potential and the Humber is well placed to be a focal point. The Government’s Industrial Strategy will have a critical role, promoting trade and industry. ABP and colleagues in the Humber are committed to doing more.”
Humber Local Enterprise Partnership chief executive Kishor Tailor told how unemployment was down to a 42-year low, while GVA was up £3.5 billion in the past five years. “Things are happening; the Humber is on the radar, we are ready, and ready to help with development," he said.