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TfN calls for export drive from Northern gateways

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– Only 2 in 5 Northern exports leave Northern ports

Transport for the North (TfN) today published its International Connectivity and Aviation policy paper which highlights the potential of Northern gateways. The report calls for the maximising of the full potential of our ports and airports, as essential to growing the North’s economy.

The policy paper builds on TfN’s previous policy on International Connectivity which highlighted the importance of aviation and shipping in supporting the transformation of economic performance in the North and close the productivity gap with other parts of UK.

The initial work highlighted the North’s economic opportunities from the untapped spare capacity at Northern ports and airports for 60m additional passengers per year. However, to ensure we make full use of these opportunities, these gateways must be better connected to towns and cities with good quality road, rail, and water links.

The International Connectivity and Aviation policy paper highlights:

  • The role of gateways as economic hubs and enablers for growth.
  • The importance of providing high-quality and efficient surface access to the North’s airports and ports, allowing businesses access to international markets and linking economic clusters across the North.
  • The challenges of aviation emissions associated with the growth in international connectivity and emphasises the role of innovative technologies that are constantly evolving to overcome these challenges.

There are clear opportunities to rebalance growth across the UK – currently only two in five (39%) of the North’s total exports are shipped from Northern ports/airports and 4.1m business trips in/out of the North in 2017 is forecast to reach 9m by 2050.

A better connected North will it make it faster and cheaper for businesses to access international markets, encouraging trade and investment which will facilitate economic growth. But it requires significant investment in improved surface access, including Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2, and rail electrification into major ports.

TfN’s new policy paper – International Connectivity and Aviation – is part of the organisations work to update the 2019 Strategic Transport Plan (STP) for the region.

Martin Tugwell, Chief Executive at Transport for the North, said:

“The evidence is clear: poor transport infrastructure and services are holding back the North’s economic potential. Investing in improving infrastructure will enable growth, improve access to jobs, and ensure the North is a great place to live and invest.

“The North has demonstrated its potential to be a performer on the global stage. To build a well-connected North we need to do more than just improve travel within the region. We also need to ensure that the North has first-class international connections.

“Maximising the use of our existing ports and airports will realise the North’s potential, whilst helping provide relief to gateways in the over congested South. This includes making use of the potential of its airports and ports to deliver more direct international connections.

“The TfN Board will continue to work with its partners to seek solutions to the challenges we face by harnessing the opportunities our work has identified.”

Through the publication of the International Connectivity and Aviation policy paper, TfN will coordinate and influence key priorities and projects for the North’s aviation and maritime sectors, embedding the views of local partners, academia and stakeholders in the industry.

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