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Press Release: Support Water Freight

I issued the following press release on 11 August 2006:


Lynne Jones MP has called for Government action to shift the transport of freight from our roads to our waterways  Supporting a Parliamentary motion (text below) backing the sector, the Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak said,

The Case for Water, a report by Sea and Water, a body representing the water freight industry, highlights the potential benefits of moving more freight by water.  Having consulted West Midlands Waterways (who say that using the canal system in Birmingham, a fully loaded tug can get from the centre of Birmingham to outlying districts in a few hours), it is clear that moving to water freight would reduce road lorry miles, traffic congestion, noise, exhaust pollution and damage to our road infrastructure and adjacent buildings. 

The industry already makes a major contribution to the UK’s economy, employing over 200,000 people.   I am calling for action to support the sector to allow a further shift of freight from road to water, through:

·          Reform of the planning system to allow ports to expand and access to the waterside and to freight handling facilities to be protected


·          The creation of a level playing field between road transport and other modes through road pricing


·          Support for the strategic inland waterway network integrated with the coastal maritime ‘ring-road’ to ensure that the maximum range of destinations are served by water transport.”



Notes to editors

West Midlands Waterways point out that niche markets can gain great benefits by using lock-free areas of the system between Birmingham and the outskirts of Solihull and Birmingham to Wolverhampton and Walsall for the movement of bulk materials and non time sensitive commodities. Each boat can carry approximately 20-25 tons.  Water freight Is quieter and exhausts a fraction of the emissions of a lorry engine.  One tug can pull 4 fully loaded unpowered craft (moving up to 80-100 tons per trip).  Moving freight by water is very efficient.  The removal of just a small percentage of lorries from the road system could have quite a dramatic impact on traffic flows in city areas. Goods could be transported 24 hours a day or during the hours of darkness so that any negative impact on the leisure/tourist boating market would be limited.

Text of Early DayMotion:


EDM 1880

That this House welcomes the publication of the Case for Water report by Sea and Water; acknowledges that Sea and Water call not for long-term subsidy for the water freight sector but a level playing field for all transport modes; recognises that the water freight industry makes a major contribution to the UK's economy, employs more than 200,000 people and has the potential to boost the employment of British seafarers and shore staff; notes that moving freight by water is environmentally sustainable and takes lorries off the congested road network; believes that, with proper political encouragement, the water freight sector can meet growing demand; acknowledges that the Government's proposed system of road pricing will enable the true cost of road freight transport to be paid, but that until this is instituted water freight should be supported and helped by easing the tortuous planning procedures; and calls on the Government to back the water freight industry with policies to develop and maintain the inland waterway network and allow the appropriate expansion of UK ports.


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