Coastal leaders call for UK Chancellor to support maritime decarbonisation

Leaders from coastal towns and councils across the UK – and all the majority maritime hubs – have co-signed a letter calling on the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to invest £1 bilion in the maritime sector in order to ‘kick-start a world-leading maritime decarbonisation programme’.

The letter comes a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Party Conference speech in which he set out his blueprint for a ‘green industrial revolution’ and plans to invest £160m in ports and factories to manufacture the next generation of wind turbines. It claims that the £1 billion investment in the maritime sector would help develop zero-emission vessels and green infrastructure to install and service the new windfarms announced by the Prime Minister – and it would also be vital in enabling the UK government to meet its legally-binding net-zero emissions targets.

Furthermore, the Council Leaders argue that the investment would create ‘over 74,000 ‘green collar jobs’ in ex-industrial and coastal towns and cities across the UK which have been hardest hit from the coronavirus pandemic’.

Given that the lifespan of many vessels is around twenty years, zero-emission vessels will need to be in the water by the end of this decade, and the solutions are not yet viable. The funding would be spent on research and development and green infrastructure.

The letter argued that maritime decarbonisation offered an excellent opportunity for UK businesses – but they would have to act fast.

‘Globally, said the Council Leaders told the UK Chancellor, ‘the maritime sector will double to £3trn by 2030, and the UK has a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of the growing market for decarbonising the maritime sector, and to export these technologies globally.

‘But without investment, this opportunity will be missed, and the UK will risk losing its position as a world-leader in maritime. Many other countries around the world are already acting to support the decarbonisation of their maritime industries, and the UK Government must do the same.’

Ben Murray, Director of Maritime UK, commented: ‘That this letter has been signed by mayors and council leaders from across the United Kingdom demonstrates the unique role that maritime plays across the whole country. Our Spending Review bid would create 74,000 well-paid, high-quality green collar jobs. And such is the nature of maritime, the vast majority of these would be in coastal towns and cities across the UK. There are very few sectors that can match maritime for its ability to level-up these communities. 

‘The maritime sector supports the PM’s pledge to invest £160 million into ports and factories to manufacture the next generation of wind turbines. But we want the Government to go further. The sector has been calling for £1bn of investment in the planned Spending Review to kickstart the green investment needed to decarbonise the maritime sector entirely. Without doing so, the UK cannot reach its net-zero commitments.

‘The reality is that businesses have burnt through their cash reserves keeping Britain supplied with fuel, food and medicine throughout the COVID crisis. They simply don’t have the capital to invest in green technology and infrastructure on their own. As these Mayors and Council Leaders have shown, backing maritime does more than simply support a single sector: it will help transform the fortunes of coastal towns and cities around the United Kingdom. It is therefore absolutely critical the sector gets the Government investment it requires, and now.’

Click here to download the letter.

Ian Taylor

Ian Taylor