News that a decision on the new Liverpool cruise terminal is set to be delayed until 2024 is not a good prospect for the city and our region. That’s the verdict of Mersey Maritime Chief Executive, Chris Shirling-Rooke, who leads the LCR’s regional cluster organisation which represents the £4.2bn industry locally.
Commenting, Mr Shirling-Rooke said:
“We really do need to get on with this decision as soon as possible. If it is party politics that’s getting in the way of confirming the financial decision for a £50million new cruise terminal for the city – which is desperately needed – then I respectfully say to all those involved, please don’t play around with the future of our maritime industry, an industry that has made our region a place for us all to be proud of.
“If we don’t make the big calls now, we’ll be left behind. In recent years, aside from the obvious challenge of Covid-19, we know that cruise makes a massive contribution to our local economy as part of the £5bn tourist industry which was booming in 2020. Liverpool is the most significant cruise destination on the west coast of the United Kingdom and a major market player for the whole sector across the country.
“Apparently one of the arguments against committing to this major project is concern over viability of the cruise industry going forward. I would love to see where this data has come from, as it’s not something we recognise within the industry. All the indications are that the sector is recovering strongly since the pandemic with some of the largest cruise ships in the world coming into the Mersey since last summer – more than 100 cruises, bringing more than 80,000 passengers to the city.
“And then there’s talk about cruise emissions from vessels. We know this is a big challenge for all means of transport as we transition towards net zero and prioritise sustainability. What would be crazy though would be to turn our backs on the opportunity presented to lead the world in this field. We have some of the best academic institutions on the planet and some of the most innovative maritime businesses of anywhere in the country who are already looking at alternative fuels and ways to deliver decarbonisation.
“We can’t afford to just mothball a whole sector because as a region our political masters don’t have the will or the foresight to grab this ‘once in a generation’ job creation opportunity with both hands, whilst we strive for perfect solutions. Mersey Maritime wants to see our incredible, diverse and dynamic region capitalise on this economic and transformative opportunity, and not given away by people who perhaps don’t fully represent or understand our great coastal community.
“We’ve made mistakes in this regard in the past. Why, for example, didn’t we capitalise on the ‘Getting Building Fund’ announced in July 2020 and was made available by the Government, aiming to support the UK’s economic recovery following the COVID-19 crisis? Other areas prioritised maritime projects, including in Southampton where significant funding was confirmed for a new fifth Cruise Terminal which will deliver an iconic wave inspired building complete with solar generation and shore power, ensuring a world leading zero emissions facility for cruise vessels in port. These are the sort of transformational openings we can’t afford to miss.
“My message is simple: we need to seize this opportunity together – now. Let’s give cruise the boost it needs to power back further from the pandemic and continue to make a major contribution to our regional economy, creating jobs and growth where it’s needed most.”