The strategy will highlight the opportunities to address the challenges that lie ahead for the sector. The logistics sector is very important for the North of England, with a quarter of all GB freight starting or ending in the region and more than a third of goods entering through its ports.
PRIORITISING LONG-TERM INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT
TfN became England’s first Sub-national Transport Body following approval from parliament in 2018. As such, the body has the ability and authority to plan and prioritise long-term infrastructure investment in the region. However, it is keen to take into account the views of all stakeholders – logistics operators, members of the public and the wider business community – and is urging them to have their say on shaping the way forward.
The consultation acknowledges that the sector also faces a number of constraints, such as a shortage of warehouse capacity (especially rail connected warehousing), lack of reliable and efficient east-west connectivity across the Pennines and a disproportionate reliance on southern ports.
LOGISTICS VITAL TO REGION’S RECOVERY AND GROWTH
TfN has now developed a draft strategy which underlines the importance of the efficient movement of goods to economic recovery and growth in the region. It also highlights the urgent need to take action to decarbonise the freight and logistics sector. Multimodal in its scope, the strategy looks at the demand for a freight network covering road, rail and water, and the potential for ports and freeports.
The strategy has three key objectives: accelerating the delivery of the TfN Investment Programme interventions to support the North’s economy; the need to transition to zero carbon; and the strategic policy positions needed to develop the strategy effectively.
DECARBONISING THE FREIGHT AND LOGISTICS SECTOR
The strategy reflects the objectives of TfN’s Transport Decarbonisation Strategy, firstly in achieving near-zero emissions from its surface transport network by 2045, and secondly in optimising the social and economic benefits from clean growth opportunities in the North.
“The freight and logistics sector is vital in helping us all get the things we need to go about our daily lives,” said Martin Tugwell, Chief Executive at TfN, “The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the UK leaving the EU brought this into sharp focus, so now is the perfect time for the North of England to set out a strategy on how we can best support and enable the movement of goods around our region.”
Tugwell maintained that TfN’s Freight & Logistics Strategy reveals the data that drives the sector, identifies the options for decarbonising freight and sets out the importance of the sector to enabling ambitious growth for businesses.
TFN CHIEF URGES ALL INTERESTED PARTIES TO GET INVOLVED
“It’s an important piece of work, and we urge everyone to get involved in the consultation – not just those who work in the sector, but members of the general public and business community too,” Tugwell continued, “Getting goods to our homes and workplaces efficiently, reliably and in a sustainable way is only going to get more important in the coming years, so it’s essential we hear from many voices now to help set us on the right journey for our future needs.”
VIRTUAL CONSULTATION ROOM
To encourage feedback, TfN has set up a ‘virtual consultation room, which contains all the information and feedback forms and delivers a virtual experience for interested parties to read, scrutinise and respond to the strategy. To make responding easier, TfN has split the room into themes so visitors can respond to what grabs their attention the most.