It has taken forever for the final National Policy Statement on Ports to emerge, after the draft was considered ‘not fit for purpose’ by the transport select committee and severely criticised by many bodies such as the RTPI.
Like the draft the final version is entirely non-spatial and completely market driven.
What struck me most was the statement in4.9.3 page 24
the decision-maker should not reject an application for development on one site simply because fewer adverse impacts would result from developing similar infrastructure on another suitable site, and it should have regard as appropriate to the possibility that other suitable sites for port infrastructure of the type proposed may be needed for future proposals.
Which is rather breathtaking, and one for the lawyers to argue over over the meaning of the word ‘simply’. Presumably the idea being that given demand is predicted to double for container ports by 2030 any and every alternative that is conceivably suitable should be permitted. The problem is for those regions such as the Mersey where applications are likely to be double that, should every one of those be permitted? What about supporting roads and rail?
Poor planning can result in parts being under or over supplied. I remember huge brand new one port in the middle east running at 5% capacity. The risk here is that because private sector investors wont know which ports will be served by publicly funded transport infrastructure, and because the public sector wont know which potential ports to serve no ports could get built.
It is one area which illustrates well how you cannot do without proper sub-regional planning to coordinate the different investments.