Port of Liverpool owner Peel Ports has put out the call to businesses across the North West to look at investing in new operations in and around the port.
Addressing an audience of maritime sector businesses in Liverpool, Peel Ports port director Phil Hall said plans for a Liverpool city region Freeport presented a golden opportunity for new business partnerships.
In March it was revealed the city region’s Freeport status could boost its economy by an estimated £850m and lead to the creation of 14,000 jobs. It is one of eight new Freeport regions across the UK revealed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak earlier this year.
Freeports are designated zones where normal tax and customs rules do not apply. These can be airports or other hubs as well as maritime ports. At a freeport, imports can enter with simplified customs documentation and without paying tariffs.
In Liverpool city region the Freeport will cover multiple locations and will actually stretch as far as Port Salford at the other end of the Manchester Ship Canal. It takes in the Port of Liverpool, Wirral Waters, Liverpool John Lennon Airport, logistics sites in Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and West Lancs and the Stobart rail freight terminal in Halton.
Mr Hall was speaking at the Mersey Maritime monthly Face-2-Face breakfast networking event, hosted by law firm Brabners in Liverpool city centre. He said that over the past few years, Peel Ports had not only invested £750m across the group with a significant proportion directly into its North West operations, but had also entered into partnerships to leverage hundreds of millions more.
He said: “We try to be agile across our ports. A busy port will have a positive impact on jobs and communities. Ports are in coastal regions and they tend to be the most deprived areas. As well as providing jobs directly we are also an enabler who is looking to support other businesses to set up operations around the port.
“Ports are vital to the UK economy and the pandemic and Brexit has put them back under the spotlight. Previously, I think many people underestimated how much ports bring to the UK economy.”
He listed some of the partnerships Peel Ports had entered into with companies around the Port of Liverpool, where its direct investment of £400m into the Liverpool2 deep water container terminal had created hundreds of jobs. Those partnerships include:
- Asoybean crush and refinery with US industrial giant Cargill that has already created dozens of jobs with further growth in the pipeline.
- Millionsof pounds invested into a new container and trailer depot for global shipping giant MSC whose larger container vessels are a regular sight at the port. That will create and securearound 50 new jobs.
- A £17m investment with Jenkins to build a new paper and pulp processing plant. Jenkins imports paper and pulp through the Port of Liverpool.
- And a £15m investment with Stena Line to upgrade the 12 Quays terminal at Birkenhead to handle its two new state-of-the-art Belfast ferries, Stena Embla and Stena Edda.
- A new cruise liner terminal for Liverpool that will see even more cruise ships calling in to the Mersey, generating millions of pounds for the visitor economy.
“We know that every £1 invested in ports in the UK yields an extra £2.15 in extra GVA value for the economy,” added Mr Hall. “Ports are large-scale industrial parks providing jobs and growth opportunities.
“In Sefton, the port provides 3% of all private sector jobs. Every year it generates £7.5m in business rates for Sefton Council and 33% of the workforce here lives in the borough. Around 80% of the workforce is drawn from the city region.
“The Freeport presents a fantastic opportunity to create a significant number of jobs around the port and across the Liverpool city region. It can bring together some of the largest businesses in the North West. They can work together, and with us, to bring more stuff in through the Port of Liverpool.”
Peel Ports has struck up partnerships with colleges in the city region, particularly with Hugh Baird College in Bootle, to encourage young people to consider a number of career options in ports and maritime. Skills roles include crane operators, automation engineers, multi-skilled port operatives, back office roles and apprenticeships.
Using himself and his family as an example, Mr Hall said: “The maritime sector provides a credible route to a lifelong career. I was born and brought up in Sefton. I started my career as a trainee accountant with Mersey Docks & Harbour Company and now, as port director, I oversee the Port of Liverpool, Manchester Ship Canal and Heysham.
“Both my father and brother have also spent their whole careers in the maritime sector. It has provided livelihoods for my family and we are living proof of what you can achieve by choosing a career in maritime. This is a sector that is just full of opportunities.”