TEESPORT bosses say new pollution rules for shipping could drive up prices of freight and lead to job losses.
Laws on sulphur emissions due before 2015 will have an impact on everyone, they say, by pushing up the cost of goods - and global warming could also be worsened if cargo is forced back onto the UK’s roads.
Shipping trade bodies say Annex VI controls could cost shipping thousands of jobs - P&O Ferries says its fuel costs would rise by about £60m a year, changing marginal routes into heavily loss-making routes and making job losses inevitable.
Maritime UK, which represents shipping and ports, estimates the additional cost to the industry at £3.6bn as the regulations take hold.
Jerry Hopkinson, managing director for bulks, ports and logistics at PD Ports said: “This applies to ships that are plying their trade principally on the North Sea, Baltic region and around US coastal waters.
“It will limit emissions on ships and will force vessel operators to take engineering measures to install what’s known in the industry as scrubbers to remove particulates.
“It’s absolutely great environmentally - the problem is it imposes quite a cost on older vessels to get them up to scratch.
“We have a time where the entire globe is economically challenged, now we’ve got an additional cost.
“This will become the global standard by 2020.
“People will look to recover this cost, if they can at all, what then happens is prices of freight potentially goes up, then for customers as well as the port, prices of good will rise.
“It’s an issue for all of us.
“Whilst PD Ports is very supportive of sensible measures to preserve our environment, our worry is that it will drive cargo off the sea and back onto the road again, at a time when the UK is beginning to wake up to the opportunities of coastal transport shortening the distances of road transport.”
The port’s Logical Link scheme, a twice-weekly feeder service between Teesport and Felixstowe, was introduced after market studies showed there was a gap for a water-borne service that allows customers to cut transport costs by taking vehicles off the road, while slashing their emissions.
The European Commission wants to bring the new controls into EU law, but with additional requirements for passenger ferries to observe the limits even when they are outside special emission control areas, a move that has been opposed by the Commons Transport Select Committee.
“Companies need to be aware of this, moving forward,” Mr Hopkinson added, “having talked to the various shipping bodies, they all have very strong opinions on this. There is no sign that any financial help will be forthcoming for them. We need to measure this as the legislation bites.”