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Unlocking the potential of UK waterways – has inland water freight got a bigger role to play in our supply chain.

Goole Port UK waterways
Goole Port UK inland waterborne freight, sea and rail freight

The Freight Transport Association will be supporting Freight by Water 2018 at today’s conference, the aim of the event is to look at facilitating the greater use of water freight, tackling the issues facing the sector, it has been organised by The Canal & River Trust, a charity governing over 2,000 miles of the UK’s waterways.

The conference brings together operators, freight carriers, logistics specialists and public bodies, to look closely at the potential of inland waterway freight transport in the UK and beyond.

Stephen Anderson, Chair of FTA’s Freight by Water – the UK’s official body for promoting the benefits of water freight as a commercially and environmentally sustainable mode – explains his involvement: “There’s never been a better time for businesses to explore waterways as a means of freight transport. With continued rises in fuel prices and the government’s push to reduce carbon emissions, waterways provide businesses with the perfect opportunity to reduce costs and environmental impact, while avoiding increasingly congested roads. Waterways should be an integral part of any effective multi-modal logistics strategy, but further investment in infrastructure is desperately needed for it to reach its full potential – this will be tackled during Freight by Water 2018.

Alex Veitch, FTA’s Head of Global Policy, will co-chair the event and Stephen Anderson will offer an exclusive first-look at plans for a new operation to boost inland waterway freight use by 2020.

If the £3.4m inland port in Stourton, Leeds gets the go ahead, it could be the first step in investment in the many wharfs along the UK’s canal and river networks. This proposal will allow non-perishable freight such as aggregates, timber, oil and steel to be moved from the Humber estuary via the River Aire and Calder Navigation.  Given the traffic congestion and air quality issues in Leeds City Region – using waterways could bring environmental and health, as well as commercial benefits, bringing vital freight into the city centre and removing 200,000 tonnes of traffic from the roads in its first year alone.

Waterborne freight, once the backbone of industrial Britain has been in decline since the proliferation of the motorways, which quickly became more commercially viable for freight carriers.

But as the busy port of Goole in East Yorkshire shows us, being 50 miles from the sea is no problem – Goole handles around 2 million tonnes of cargo a year, it has a dedicated rail-freight terminal and covered terminals allow import and export container handling in all conditions.

Due to increasing UK road congestion and haulage costs, freight on water is again becoming an attractive proposition for certain goods. Speak to our sea freight team about inland port options.

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