Examination of Witnesses (Questions 360
WEDNESDAY 26 APRIL 2006
Q360 Joan Walley: Is that linked
to the document you have just referred to?
Dr Leggate: Yes, we do actually
refer to the ports policy review in that document.
Q361 Joan Walley: Is that your submission
to us, or is that a separate document?
Dr Leggate: No, this is a separate
thing, but we have had discussions with the ports. We have members
of our organisation are port operators, so we have had discussions
with them and the port operators have fed into the ports policy
review, but certainly the ports are a good example of the pitfalls
in the planning process, things like the Dibden Bay saga, which
went on for years and years and whilst we recognise that there
needs to be a good planning process, there must be ways of trying
to speed the process up and streamline it so that ports in the
UK can compete with ports in Continental Europe.
Q362 Joan Walley: Just before we
come on to that, have you had any indication from the Department
for Transport as to what its response to your representation is,
the discussions you have had with officials?
Dr Leggate: No.
Q363 Joan Walley: You have got no
idea what weight is going to be given to ports in the review?
Dr Leggate: Well, it is a review
on ports, so I am not quite sure what weight is going to be given
to planning, although at a recent conference Dr Ladyman was actually
giving the opening address and he did seem to indicate that planning
was going to form part of the ports policy review.
Q364 Joan Walley: From the talks
you have had with officials, are you fairly confident from the
overtures you have had with different departments as well as the
Department for Transport, ODPM for example, Defra as well, that
there is a sort of joined-up approach across Government?
Dr Leggate: No, definitely not.
This is a real problem for us. We have a fairly good dialogue
with the Department for Transport, but any water freight strategy,
or any freight strategy for that matter, cuts across a number
of Government departments and this is not recognised at all. We
do not have a great deal to do with Defra, although we need to
because there are issues for Defra in any water freight strategy,
and of course ODPM, and we have actually for certainly eighteen
months to two years tried to get DfT to develop some sort of group
for water freight which cuts across these Government departments
so that water freight can actually be seen not just as transport
but as something which affects the environment and something which
affects the regions. We have had absolutely no success with that,
no success at all.
Q365 Joan Walley: Just to press you
a little bit more on that, we heard earlier on what you were saying
about your innovative ideas for the Olympics. Have you, for example,
appraised the housing market renew areas and also the areas for
the Government's sustainable communities strategy to see what
the implications are there for economic and regeneration initiatives
which could entail water side by side with the initiatives which
are already underway?
Dr Leggate: No, we have not really,
because what we are primarily concerned with is freight on water,
so we have not got involved with the regeneration programmes and
that kind of thing.
Q366 Joan Walley: So who is making
Mr Lapthorn: That is a good question.
Dr Leggate: I do not know. Actually,
we are finding it hard to make any connections with anybody because
of the fact that this committee which is supposedly making the
decisions on the Olympics has not yet been formed, or has only
just been formed. The problem from our point of view on water
freight is the work which is needed on these locks and on these
channels needs to be done now, because that is going to take some
time, in order for the construction work to start in twelve to
eighteen months. We are going to literally miss the boat because
the work which is needed on the locks will not be completed in
time and the construction work will have to start. So we fear
it is too late, and certainly when I spoke to the Department for
Transport about it they were very pessimistic about the whole
thing because it was just all too late to do anything.
Mr Lapthorn: The sad thing is
that in that particular case it is not just a case of construction
traffic, it is the clearing of the site and all those things beforehand
and then the continuing transport of waste, et cetera, after the
event. It is typically short-term thinking.
Q367 Joan Walley: Just finally, you
were calling on ODPM and DfT to identify sites with natural potential
to be turned into interchanges where all of this could actually
come together. How far down the road do you think you arewell,
I think perhaps you have answered my question already, have you
not? What will it take to get you round the table in order to
look at this in a holistic way?
Mr Lapthorn: It would take nothing
to get us around the table. We would be there tomorrow. We would
be there now. I think at the heart of it, I suspect, is a lack
of knowledge. "There is a lorry. I know what it does, I know
where it goes and I am in control of it. Ships, canal barges,
whatever, I know nothing about so I won't even go there."
Joan Walley: Thank you.
Q368 Chairman: On your own industry's
emissions, the Government's Climate Change Programme Review said
that Britain is "playing an active role in reducing emissions
from shipping". Can you tell us how that is happening?
Dr Leggate: The active role I
think comes more on an international level in shipping and air
pollutant emissions from ships is covered by the Marine Pollution
Convention of the International Maritime Organisation. Since then
we have had a European Directive on marine fuel sulphur, which
is limiting the sulphur content of fuel to 1.5% and it is likely
to be stricter for the port areas and inland waterways, something
like 0.2%. I must say, I am not aware of any initiatives in the
UK to reduce that other than what has come down from European
Mr Lapthorn: The tendency is,
not just in this area but across the board, to fulfil international
and European obligations and because there is little or not influence
over other flag[ged] coming into the UK because of the international
nature of the business the sorts of ships and inland vessels where
our majority interests lie already meet these requirements anyway
and engine manufacturers and others are in a continuous process
of improving, reducing emissions, in the normal course of events.
Q369 Chairman: So the industry does
not have any particular priorities in this respect?
Mr Lapthorn: Not directly, no,
other than achieving the international requirements, and when
you are into international fuel oils, and so on, in the larger
sizes it becomes more significant.
Dr Leggate: Having said that,
it is a very innovative industry and very hi-tech, and this is
something else which does not come across. When ship building
goes on, there are not two ships that are alike. There are always
improvements in design and in engine sizes, so that kind of innovation
is going on all the time.
Q370 Chairman: I think we have covered
most of the ground we expected to. Is there anything else you
wanted to say? Have we missed any points?
Dr Leggate: I do not think so,
Mr Lapthorn: Other than to say,
if I may, go out and sell it.
Chairman: Thank you very much for coming
in. It is much appreciated.