It is encouraging that the North East ports are reporting increased activity in terms of record exports and cargo volumes, backed by a strong and expanding manufacturing base across the region.
The key ports within the region clearly play a big part in this success story backed up by main employers such as Nissan and the expanding renewable and offshore sectors. Exports/imports are increasingly shipped through the region’s major ports on the Tyne and Tees as well as the smaller, but active ports including Sunderland, Seaham, Hartlepool and Blyth.
Historically the region’s ports developed alongside the strategic industries of coal mining, shipbuilding and steel production.
The rivers Tyne, Wear and Tees were industrial arteries with the majority of port activity being behind secure walls with limited public access.
More recently the region’s economy has diversified with manufacturing, service industry and tourism replacing the declining traditional waterfront activity.
The two major sea ports in the region namely, Port of Tyne and Teesport have invested heavily in their operational port facilities and infrastructure to enhance customer logistics and improved cargo handling.
Both ports are seeking to secure further business within the renewable energy and off-shore sectors as well as their more traditional port activities.
The Port of Tyne achieved its highest cargo volumes for more than 50 years in 2013 and is the UK’s fastest growing deep – sea port providing a vital connection to Europe and beyond for north east companies, industry and trade.
The port is the UK’s number one car exporting port, with a combined volume of car movements through the car terminals of 640,000 units in 2013, a slight reduction on the record number achieved in the previous year.
Major retailers Asda and Tesco have large logistics and distribution facilities within Teesport and the re-introduction of steel production by SSI UK at Teesside has seen five million tonnes of steel slab being exported through the port since 2012.
PD Ports, the operator of Teesport and Gazeley, a leading provider of logistics warehouse and distribution parks have recently announced plans to develop up to 1.6 million sq ft of build to suit sustainable port-centric logistics warehousing in the next phase of development at Teesport.
Elsewhere across the region, the Port of Blyth has announced that growth in cargo throughput and work for the offshore energy market has helped them to a record turnover of £17.7m in 2013.
The Port of Sunderland is also gearing up to cash in on the investment off the North Sea coast and the Port of Seaham offers extensive covered warehousing with excellent road links to theA19 and rail links to the main line.
New investment is also being promoted on the NE Enterprise Zone for offshore manufacturing opportunities.
The investment in new infrastructure and facilities by the region’s ports will make a significant contribution to the economic recovery within the region and pave the way for further manufacturing exports, new inward investment and commercial development.
Danny Cramman, head of Industrial Agency, GVA, Newcastle