Can Superport Liverpool help to rebalance the UK economy?

Posted by Claire Delahunty

Superport Manager - Liverpool City Region LEP

Wed 28th, Oct

The Northern Powerhouse aims to decentralise and stimulate the Northern UK economy. The Northern Powerhouse report by Transport for the North outlined a transport strategy through which investment will drive growth. Improving East-West links shall enhance connectivity and business growth by linking City Region economies.

Global connectivity

This chimes with the aspirations of Superport Liverpool, an integrated cluster of logistics assets and expertise that will deliver faster, greener global access for business to and from northern UK and Ireland via an enlarged deep water container terminal, Liverpool2, at the Port of Liverpool (doubling container capacity to 1.5m TEUs pa). It will be followed next Spring by the new wider Panama Canal, further opening up global trade.

Already 45% of North American container traffic enters the UK through Liverpool and this is set to increase as global supply chains adapt to market opportunity. With the growth of online retail, transporting goods to the right place quickly will be crucial. The forecast is for e-commerce to increase by double digits year on year in the UK for the foreseeable future with Amazon seeing 39% growth recently.

Market proximity

Liverpool is a gateway providing cargo owners with easy access to market. The port is within 150 miles of 35 million people and by transporting goods directly into the heart of the UK the potential for same-day delivery and late cut-off is greatly increased.

We can compete with the rest of the world by offering an alternative route for cargo owners to bring in goods to the north of England, Scotland and Ireland while cutting cost, time and carbon from supply chains. There is recognition that the UK transport network is over centralised on the North-South axis and over concentrated which supports the expansion of a Northern East-West multimodal transport corridor.

Liverpool City Region benefits from excellent motorway connectivity with direct motorway access as well as two rail mainlines; both supported by a multimodal freight facilities such as 3MG (Mersey Multimodal Gateway) utilised by Tesco.

The £600m Mersey Gateway Bridge is currently under construction and will create a 6 lane crossing opening in 2017. It will contribute to relieving congestion and boosting the local economy.

The 36 mile Manchester Ship Canal linking Liverpool with Manchester has seen container volumes increase from 3,000 in 2009 to 30,000 in 2013 as cargo owners, primarily retailers like Regatta, Kellogg and Princes, recognise the benefits of removing road miles entirely from their supply chain.

An unbalanced economy

We already know that the UK economy is imbalanced. This is put into stark clarity when despite 60% of demand being closer to northern England and Ireland, currently 91% of deep sea containers enter via southern ports.

This adds to congestion and unnecessary environmental impacts from containers being transferred via road. This is unproductive for the UK economy. Liverpool2 will simultaneously handle two 13,500 TEU ships offering a viable alternative and boosting productivity through more efficient supply chains as goods get to market more quickly.

A balanced economy

Liverpool City Region has the highest density of large warehousing (over 9,000sqm) in proximity to a port, at 28%, that’s more than the Golden Triangle (20%). Demand remains high as research by Colliers International highlighted that between June 2014-2015, rental values for sheds over 100,000sqft in Liverpool jumped by 17%, against a North West increase of 15%.

So not only does Liverpool offer global connectivity and market proximity we have the infrastructure and assets to service the anticipated increase in containers.

Next March the Northern Freight and Logistics Strategy will identify the wider infrastructure requirements to raise efficiency by reducing freight transport costs, linked to major ports. This strategy will ensure end to end connectivity as it is being led by freight operators who currently experience the frustrations of the network on a daily basis.

Liverpool is part of the solution to rebalancing the UK

Liverpool is on the cusp of real change and Superport Liverpool presents a unique opportunity to further develop the freight and logistics hub for the north of the UK. By working collaboratively with public and private sector the benefits include:

  • Significantly enhancing competitiveness and rebalancing of the UK economy
  • Integrating our plans with national infrastructure
  • Helping businesses grow by offering faster access to market
  • Further investment in infrastructure to recognise and support growth
  • Helping to reduce congestion in overheated areas
  • Realising economic potential
  • Contributing to the Northern Powerhouse
  • Positioning Liverpool as the gateway to North America and beyond

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