4 Freight and European transport networks |
79. The most recent figures show that 62 million
tonnes of freight are moved annually between Wales and the rest
of the UK, almost as much as is moved within Wales.
The Welsh Government estimates that freight contributes around
£2.5 billion to the Welsh economy each year.
Transport by road remains the dominant mode for the movement of
freight, but there has been an increase in the use of rail freight
in recent years.
WALES FREIGHT GROUP
80. The Welsh Government published a Wales Freight
Strategy in May 2008 outlining its aims and policies for the freight
was produced with the assistance of the Wales Freight Group, a
body convened by the Welsh Government to provide a forum for discussion
and deliver the freight strategy. The Group consists of freight
industry representatives, Welsh Government officials, Network
Rail, and users of freight services.
81. Our predecessor Committee welcomed the Welsh
Freight Strategy as "a good example of a co-ordinated strategy
which is supported by the creation of a key stakeholder group"
[the Wales Freight Group]. However, the Freight Transport Association
told us the Group had not met for two years, which meant it has
failed to act as a forum to interact with the Welsh Government
and other key stakeholders.
It wanted the Wales Freight Group to resume activity.
When questioned about why the Group had not convened for two years,
the Welsh Government Minister told us:
[T]he freight group that was established probably
was not delivering what it was really intended to do. It became
a single focus group of local issues as opposed to a more strategic
vision for delivery of freight across Wales.
This was contrary to the evidence we received from
freight industry representatives, who said that the Group was
the main mechanism through which they interacted with the Welsh
Government on freight issues.
The Welsh Government Minister told us that he intended to establish
a new freight group with a more strategic focus to improve freight
services in Wales.
82. We are disappointed that
the Wales Freight Group has not met for two years. This has denied
the freight industry a key mechanism to interact with the Welsh
Government and other key stakeholders. We welcome the Welsh Government
Minister's statement to us that he intended to re-establish the
group and we are pleased to note that he has now convened a meeting
of the Wales Freight Group.
Trans-European Transport Network
83. The Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T)
was developed in the 1990s as an attempt to establish a comprehensive
transport network throughout the EU. The EU expects to spend approximately
23 billion on TEN-T between 2014 and 2020: this will mainly be
spent on the designated "core" transport projects and
corridors that connect EU Member States.
84. In 2011 the European Commission issued proposals
for a revised TEN-T. These are now at an advanced stage in the
EU legislative process: the Presidency aims to achieve a First
Reading Agreement between the European Parliament and Member States
during the first half of 2013. Cardiff and Newport are designated
as "core" TEN-T ports under the proposals, because each
handles more than 1% of the total volume of traffic that passes
through all EU maritime ports. During the course of our inquiry,
we heard that the European Commission had also agreed to include
Milford Haven as a core port in the draft proposals, following
joint working by the UK Government and Welsh Government.
85. In November 2012, the Chief Executive of
Milford Haven Port Authority confirmed to us that Milford Haven
was on the European Commission's "draft list":
"We are particularly interested in the designation
of Milford Haven as a TEN-T port. That should bring with it opportunities
to strengthen the road network connecting all the way along the
southern corridor as a key bridge into Ireland. That will require
quite close co-operation between the Welsh Government and the
UK Government to make that happen as a European designation, so
they do need to work closely together."
86. The European Union's proposals
for a revised Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) provide
an opportunity to secure funds for transport improvements in South
Wales, as part of the "core network corridor" from Dublin
to Paris and Brussels. We call on the UK and Welsh Governments
to pursue all opportunities to secure EU funds for the improvement
of transport infrastructure along the South Wales corridor to
Milford Haven Port. The two governments should work closely with
the Republic of Ireland, where appropriate, to secure EU funds
for projects along this corridor which benefit both countries.
87. The ports of Swansea, Fishguard and Holyhead
are part of the broader "comprehensive" TEN-T network,
because each handles more than 0.1% of the total EU maritime ports
traffic. The Welsh Ports Group said that the significance of being
on the comprehensive network was "uncertain". It has
been suggested that Swansea and Neath Port Talbot could be combined
as a single port in order to increase the chance of designation
as a "core" port for future TEN-T reviews. The DfT told
us that, currently, the two ports' combined traffic did not meet
the Commission's threshold for a core port to handle 1% of all
EU maritime ports traffic.
88. There are likely to be opportunities
for increased freight traffic in the Swansea area, as a result
of local steel operations and the redevelopment of Swansea University,
as well as increased tourism. Combining Swansea and Neath Port
Talbot as a single port will increase the chance of designation
as a "core port" for future TEN-T reviews. The
DfT should investigate the practicalities of Swansea and Neath
Port Talbot being designated as a single port for future TEN-T
reviews, and set out its view in the response to this Report.
102 Welsh Transport Statistics
2008, Welsh Government Back
The Wales Freight Strategy, Welsh Government, May 2008 Back
Ev 73 Back
The Wales Freight Strategy Back
Cross-border provision of public services for Wales: Transport,
HC 58 Back
Ev 73 Back
Ev 88 Back