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Portsmouth makes its point

The UK’s Portsmouth International Port has published a report from independent specialists Oxford Economics showing that it contributed £390M to the national economy in 2017

The economic impact study was announced at a Parliamentary reception in Westminster on Wednesday, 4th September. Using data for 2017, the port was revealed to be worth: £390M to the national economy, for every £1M generated a further £1.9M was sustained elsewhere; £189M to the local economy, for every £1m generated by the port locally a further £0.4M is stimulated through induced and indirect impacts; 5590 overall jobs; 2410 jobs in the local area through direct employment and supply chain

Mike Sellers, Portsmouth International Port director (photo above from Portsmouth Post), said: “These latest findings validate the investment and vision we, and our customers, have for the future of the port."

The economic impact report also revealed that the port handled £700M of non-EU trade, through Portico Shipping, its international cargo operator, with the value of bananas totalling £330M. In 2017 Portsmouth was responsible for 50% of the UK’s banana imports and but this will increase to 70%, as major shipping line Geest is relocating back.

Geest Line’s Managing Director, Capt Peter Dixon, said: “We left Portsmouth because of scheduling difficulties when we replaced our fleet with five larger and newer ships, increasing our capacity by 40%. “The port at Dover was able to accommodate us and enabled our business to continue and grow, but changes at Portsmouth mean it can now handle our larger and modified service and it makes sense to return.

Captain Peter Dixon announced that Geest Line is returning to Portsmouth in January
Captain Peter Dixon announced that Geest Line is returning to Portsmouth in January

“It has nothing to do with Brexit, but is simply a business decision and we intend to welcome our ships back to Portsmouth from January, two years after we left. “We’re grateful to the port and people of Dover and look forward to re-engaging with the port and people of Portsmouth.”

The Oxford Economics report showed that Portsmouth was the top municipal port in the country for managing the most non-EU fruit and vegetables, and the fourth largest overall in the UK by volume for the same goods.

It is considered the second largest port by volume on the South Coast and the second busiest cross-channel ferry port - albeit a long way behind Dover. Portsmouth’s long-term deal with major customer Brittany Ferries sees passengers regularly using routes to France and Spain, with 80% of passengers travelling to Spain sailing from Portsmouth. As the competent harbour authority it’s also responsible for 9M passengers using services to France, Spain, the Channel Island, Isle of Wight and neighbouring town Gosport.

Portsmouth is also a critical shipping route for Channel Island trade through Condor Ferries. With daily sailings carrying predominantly freight, there are regular exports of cars, building materials, food and drink supplies, clothing and utilities.

Sellers said: “While the figures alone are impressive, since 2017 we have seen further improvements, such as welcoming back global shipping line Geest to Portsmouth and a significant rise in our cruise numbers.

“As a local authority-owned port we play a vital role in employment for the area and also a critical contribution to the council’s budget, however the importance of the port goes beyond the PO post code. We have an impact nationally and are a crucial trade link for both EU and international goods." Sellers singled out the examples of fisheries in the Scotttish Islands shipping fresh fish to restaurants in Paris via Portsmouth, and exotic fruits for the UK market imported over its quays. The port also handles large wind blades for a major offshore energy company.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Portsmouth City Council said that this year alone the port contributed £8.4m to the council’s budget.“It’s essential we protect the port, as a critical trade route for goods, a vital contributor to the economy and a crucial support for council services. We hope that these latest findings resonate with others, and demonstrate the significance of the port to make sure it’s always considered on a national level."

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