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News - 23 June 2007

Why use the roads when the rivers are flowing more freely?

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is calling for Government to re-think its approach to the water freight industry and recognise that the UK’s ports and waterways offer a green alternative to the road network.

Congestion on Britain’s road cost business £17 billion a year yet some commentators accuse the Government of being negligent in ignoring the extensive network of inland waterways and commercial shipping that offer the potential to accommodate a portion of this traffic.

The BCC claims that the Government’s thinking is muddled when it comes to water freight and gives the following examples of this:

In order to take advantage of this existing resource, the BCC is recommending to the Government that:

  • It sets up an integrated freight unit that sits across the Department for Transport, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department of Communities and Local Government.
  • Incorporate commercial inland waterways as part of the country’s strategic transport network
  • Recognise and incentivise freight as a key responsibility in the objectives of the navigation authorities
  • A planning system that recognises that vital port and inland waterways infrastructure must be protected, including stronger protection for wharves with good freight potential.

David Frost Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said, “The UK’s ports and waterways offer a green alternative to transporting goods across the country yet the Government appears to be ignoring them.

“Congestion on the road network costs businesses £17 billion a year and companies are willing to look at alternative ways to transport goods. Both the Eddington and Stern Reviews point towards Water Freight being an underused resource yet the Government is not taking forward plans to utilise its potential.”


Read related items on:
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British Chamber of Commerce
Frost, David


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