Port might still have bright future

Fleetwood's roll on roll off berth and (below) Mike Penning.
Fleetwood's roll on roll off berth and (below) Mike Penning.

THE port of Fleetwood could still have a bright future, says the town’s MP.

Eric Ollerenshaw, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, says the town’s port facilities could stand to benefit from a new Government policy.

Mike Penning.

Mike Penning.

Now Mr Ollerenshaw has pledged to raise Fleetwood’s profile with ministers.

The town was badly hit by the loss of the Stena cargo service to Northern Ireland in 2010 and much of the service’s on-shore facilities have been dismantled.

But ports such as Fleetwood might have a future in moving goods around the country.

This is recognised in a National Policy Statement for Ports which has been adopted by the Government.

Mike Penning, under-secretary of state for transport, told the House of Commons: “We need to think again about our ports.

“The ships coming into our ports are getting ever bigger, and we must work out how we can get their vast cargoes around our country, as our transport networks will struggle to cope.

“Some goods will be carried by rail, but most will go by road. We must also use coastal shipping.”

Mr Penning visited Fleetwood last July when he saw the port’s unused roll-on roll-off berth.

He heard how Associated British Ports was hoping to use its spare land in servicing the offshore windfarm industry.

Mr Ollerenshaw has already raised Fleetwood in the Commons and said he would continue to push its case.

He believes it would be a waste not to try and make use of the port’s existing facilities.

He said: “The ports document was about a major national strategy for ports and Fleetwood is one of those.

“I am trying to keep Fleetwood in Mike Penning’s mind that something needs to be done, not just for Fleetwood, but a number of smaller ports which can provide services.

“Long term ABP say they are getting into the renewables market. But potentially there is still a need for Fleetwood to be used as a port and that is something I am looking at.”

The idea was supported by Coun Ron Shewan who has spoken previously about preserving Fleetwood’s port facilities.

He said: “This is something that I have been banging on about for a long time. It is very important to maintain the viability of the port – it can still play a big role in the town’s regeneration.

“They are building houses on the docks alongside the estuary and that will bring in council taxes but it’s doesn’t resolve the question of keeping port facilities.

“It would be very useful for this town if the port could be retained.”