The UK Major Ports Group today held a roundtable briefing and discussion on ports and air quality with a cross section of participants from industry, government and NGOs. The briefing was based on the emerging findings from research, commissioned from leading air quality specialists Arup, and took place at Arup’s office in London. The report is due to be published next week. It includes one finding that "emissions from vessels in the ports usually have a relatively low and very localised impact"
The research looks at data for three UKMPG ports representing a range of characteristics to examine trends and key drivers in air quality in the areas around the ports, as well as activity on the ports itself. The report goes on to catalogue and evaluate a range of air quality improvement options in terms of potential impact and feasibility.
Tim Morris, UKMPG’s CEO commented: “Major ports can and will do more to continue their record of AQ improvement. But today’s report is clear that to make a major difference in urban areas around ports the improvement requires more than the port itself acting. All stakeholders – industry and government at different levels – need to play their part to deliver meaningful impact."
Key emerging findings from the research include:
Morris continued: “The UK’s major ports take environmental stewardship very seriously and support high sustainability standards. This research is a contribution to making sure that the important task of improving air quality is well-grounded in fact and informed by expert views.
"Some of the debate about air quality has, unfortunately, not been well informed. As an island nation that relies on the sea for 95% of its trade in goods, particularly as the UK approaches Brexit, it’s vital that action taken on air quality is both effective and maintains the UK’s ability to trade with the world.”
The Government’s draft AQ strategy included a potential requirement for major ports to produce robust air quality strategies. UKMPG says it supports the principle of this, but to be effective policies must also be viable, both in terms of what’s achievable and the time frame to achieve it.
The finding that vessel emissions are not a major contributor to poor AQ is very interesting in light of the various "cold ironing" projects that have been and are being executed at various ports around the world. The Arup finding means that berth electrification is not a priority for UKMPG members. Tim Morris said: "I think it’s a very interesting question of money spent per unit of impact, particularly anywhere further than 200m or so from the port."