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An assessment of long-term United Kingdom port performance: a regional perspective

Pettit, Stephen John ORCID: and Beresford, Anthony Kenneth Charles ORCID: 2008. An assessment of long-term United Kingdom port performance: a regional perspective. Maritime Economics & Logistics 10 (1-2) , pp. 53-74. 10.1057/palgrave.mel.9100191

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In all major trading regions there are geographic concentrations of ports, and their prosperity is closely related to the economic well-being of their hinterlands and of the overseas regions to which they are linked via shipping services. The UK is well suited to studies of regional shifts in port activity. This paper outlines the trends in port traffic at selected UK ports over the last four decades or so. Traditional trade routes have largely been replaced by both near-sea and short-sea business in response to European Union (EU) expansion and fresh, rapidly growing links with low-cost Far East trading partners. Changes in port traffic are set in a regional context and the quality of the local transport infrastructure, important for distribution, is also evaluated. This paper therefore examines port performance as expressed by annual change in cargo tonnage handled in relation to port location, hinterland and foreland connectivity, and other variables. The concentration of economic activity and port capacity in the southeastern region of the UK is reflected in port traffic statistics. Important influencing factors are EU expansion, increasing use of unit loads and a move towards Far East sourcing. The main beneficiaries have been the deep-sea container ports, mostly in the southeast, a number of Ro-Ro ports, certain multi-purpose ports such as Immingham, and specialist facilities such as the liquid bulk terminals at Milford Haven. The main trends have been a concentration of business into certain favoured regions. Broadly, the expansion of the EU and the move towards Far East sourcing via ever larger ships have accentuated the regional contrast in container traffic growth between the northwest and the southeast. For other cargoes, the regional pattern is more complex and less well defined. Port traffic in the south and east has generally shown steady growth; the major exception is the dry bulk sector where volumes have, in recent years, reduced in the southern ports but risen through northern ports. Overall, port location and inland connectivity are found to be powerful determinants of port performance over the timescale examined.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
T Technology > TC Hydraulic engineering. Ocean engineering
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ports; UK port traffic; port prosperity; regional change; port location; efficiency; logistics.
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
ISSN: 1479-2931
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2022 14:30

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