Department for Transport
Printable version E-mail this to a friend

New framework for port development

New framework for port development

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 09 November 2009

Ports around England and Wales will have a new planning framework to work in when considering development, thanks to the launch of the Government's new National Policy Statement (NPS) for the sector.

The new NPS - which is subject to public consultation - sets out the broad need for additional ports capacity up to 2030 and beyond, taking such things as freight demand forecasts and the economic benefits of ports into account. The document builds on existing Government policy, which is that the need for ports capacity can best be met with an efficient and competitive industry working in a free-market environment. This new document also includes wider Government objectives for sustainable development, covering issues such as climate change considerations and the wider environmental impact of port development.

This is one of the first National Policy Statements to be published, in line with the wider Government reforms to the planning system included in last year's Planning Act. The NPS is designed to provide a clear framework for both port developers and the new Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC). It will play an important part in any decisions taken by the Commission when considering applications for new developments.

Shipping minister, Paul Clark, said:

"With over 90% of all goods arriving in the UK by sea, our ports currently employ over 54,000 people and clearly play a crucial role in the daily life of everybody in this country. While it is completely right that ports are free to operate on a commercial basis, any planned development clearly needs to be considered carefully to ensure local and environmental issues are properly taken into account. This new document will make it easier for those wishing to invest in ports development to submit planning applications, as well as providing an important framework for the IPC to use when considering them."

Notes to Editors

1. National Policy Statements (NPSs) are provided for by the Planning Act 2008. The Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), also created under that Act, will be required (subject to certain statutory exceptions) to determine planning cases in accordance with the relevant NPS, once it has been ratified after consultation.

2. From 1 March 2010 until the NPS has been ratified, the IPC will accept applications and will operate in 'recommending mode', with the Secretary of State determining applications in the light of the IPC's advice.

3. Under the present system, harbour developments are subject to harbour revision or empowerment orders under the Harbours Act 1964. In some cases additional planning consents under Town and Country Planning legislation, and/or the Transport and Works Act, are required in parallel. The new system will simplify applications by providing for these consents to be combined in one Development Consent Order.

4. This NPS will apply to ports in England and (since ports policy is not devolved there) Wales. Planning applications will be referred to the IPC where the annual capacity of the proposed development exceeds:

- 500,000 teu (twenty-foot equivalent units) of containers;

- 250,000 ro-ro units; or

- 5M tonnes of bulk/other cargo.

These are 'nationally significant infrastructure projects' (NSIPs) in the language of the legislation.

5. It is not expected that there will be many volume of ports applications to the IPC initially. Over recent years, planning permission has been given for a series of major container developments including at Felixstowe, Bathside Bay (Harwich), London Gateway, Liverpool and Teesport; decision on a further application, at Bristol, is under consideration.

6. The public consultation phase will close on 15 February. After that, consideration in Parliament by the Commons Select Committee on Transport will continue. The Committee is expected to report by the end of March. It is also open to either House of Parliament to make a resolution with regard to the proposal to designate the NPS.

7. Following Royal Assent to the Marine and Coastal Access Bill, ports applications below the IPC thresholds will in future be dealt with by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) which is to be established in Tyneside. The MMO will also advise the IPC on marine spatial planning matters and on certain deemed consents.

Press Enquires: 020 7944 3118 Out of Hours: 020 7944 4292 Public Enquiries: 0300 330 3000 Department for Transport Website:


Marine and Aviation
Phone: 020 7944 3118
Mobile: 020 7944 4292

Resilience & Cyber4Good 2022